In the early years when a stand consisted of three leeks (it changed to two leeks around 1960), a good single leek would measure around 30-35 cubic inches. The judging was done in great secrecy, with everyone excluded from the hall during the process, so there was great excitement after the long wait, when the competitors and their families all rushed in to see what the prize-winning entries were.
Many people, however, used to go to the leek shows as much to admire the prizes as the leeks, onions and carrots on show, as the following column from the local paper pointed out at the time.
From the Ashington and District Advertiser Friday 30 September 1960
(reproduced by permission)
INTO ITS OWN
The leek came into its own with a vengeance last week-end when shows were staged in more than half the clubs of the town. Of course there was the usual bit of bother here and there, when someone or other violently disagreed with the opinion of the judge, and then someone had to have his leeks cut up just to make sure that a particularly good specimen was completely ruined.
I notice that the thousands of people who visit the leek shows don’t really go to see the leeks at all. They usually look at the first four or five stands and then have eyes for nothing but the prizes. The womenfolk are particularly more interested in the prizes than in the leeks.
At one club a leek, not a particularly good specimen of the breed, got a prize for having the longest beard – well, that at least provided a little variety.
At another club a prize winner (not very high up), admitted to me that he had never grown a leek in his life and would not be quite certain which end to put in the ground if ever he had to plant them. Still, he managed a ‘stand’, and was obviously overjoyed with his prize.
STILL ON THE LEEK
You must pardon me harping on about leeks, but on looking through the records of successes over the past few years I have come to the conclusion that there must be one or two families in the town who have more kitchen cabinets, cocktail cabinets, sets of bedding and so forth in their homes than they know what to do with. Such are the rewards of being able to grow good leeks, and I probably am more than a little jealous of their achievements in this field.
Without knowing the first or last thing about leeks, I thought the best two stands were at the White House Social Club – they looked as if they would have held a very high place in any show.