A couple of kids look on, perhaps thinking that those rubber monsters would make fantastic sandpits if the rain would only let up.
This is the business end of the Royal Highland Show, many burger vans away from the show jumpers and the falconry displays. You turn right for the forklift trucks and grain silos, left for the ploughs, or straight on for a series of many-wheeled buggies that resemble small tanks. Everything gleams in ways that will surely never be repeated after a few shifts down on the farm.
It need hardly be said that this annual four-day event, exuberantly captioned the Greatest Show on Earth, is a staple on the Scottish calendar. Situated at Ingliston next to Edinburgh Airport since 1960, it has grown steadily to draw crowds of over 180,000 in recent years. That's three Champions League Finals, several T in the Parks, or a Glastonbury with 20% extra on top.
It carries off the unusual achievement of attracting punters and farmers alike, one of few places where country and city types overlap. About two-thirds of the visitors, who mainly attend on the Thursday and Friday, are here to check out the latest farming equipment or run expert eyes over livestock. The remaining 60,000-plus that swell the weekend crowd pay the £25 entry fee for the day out, drawn by things like ceilidh music, crafts, children's activities and sample-rich food halls.
The show, which ends today, is the salt in the stew of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS). It produced nearly three-fifths of its £6.4 million income in the year ended November 30, 2011. The RHASS is a curious beast, serving its 15,000 members and the wider community as a charity since Napoleonic times, but with a commercial mandate to make more money to secure its future.
Its 48-strong board of directors must be a UK record at the very least, and that's before you factor in the president (Alex Fergusson MSP), four vice-presidents, a chairman and even a chaplain. Joining this farmy army is not unattractive – according to the accounts, directors and officials received expenses worth about £2500 each last year.
Stephen Hutt was brought in as chief executive last April to replace the long-serving Ray Jones, who left to chair Scotland Food & Drink. An amiable and diplomatic accountant with no farming background, he explains that this year's show is his first in full charge. It will also be the last to have been organised by the retiring show manager David Dunsmuir, another long servant, which may partly explain why the changes to this year's event seem modest. They include beefing up the "countryside" area where the outdoor activities take place and putting on the music performances throughout the day rather than at long intervals.
Hutt responds tactfully to complaints that the ticket price plus car parking, which has just gone up to £8, has become a rip-off.
"The car parking had been £5 since 1999, and the cost of meeting the current legislative requirements for policing, and making sure we generate a revenue that covers our costs meant we had to increase it. The flip side is making sure as many people as possible are using public transport."
He adds that under-16s get in for nothing and that there is nothing to pay once you get inside (assuming you substitute the full-priced food and drink for a picnic).
SO far the event has withstood the economic climate. Ordinary punter admissions do get affected, having fallen by a few thousand last year, but trade visitors are keeping the faith. And farming exhibitors say that the show represents good value for money. It is more expensive for those in areas like crafts or fashions, who appear to part-subsidise the farmers, but Hutt is still upbeat overall.
"We lose very few agriculture or trade exhibitors every year," he says. "We work hard to offer services like meeting facilities and wifi."
The show has benefited from the farming sector holding up. Prices for beef and lamb have been high – hence Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead called for Scottish cattle production to be raised at the show on Thursday. There are fears within the industry about what will happen if the pound strengthens much more against the euro, but exports have not been hit much yet.
"The agriculture sector is relatively optimistic, certainly compared to other parts of the economy," says Angus McCall of the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association. "It's a case of people have always got to eat. We're not suffering from people not buying the product."
So far, the only struggling segment is dairy. Alasdair Fletcher, editor of Scottish Farmer, says there are differing views about the causes: "Some say it's world prices. Some say the buyers are working in a cartel to keep the prices down. Whatever the case, the restrictive contracts that producers have to sign are an absolute disgrace. I'd expect to see fewer dairy cattle on display at the show this year."
Stephen Hutt's main concern about the show is one that he says you would expect from an accountant. It comprises too much of the RHASS's income and £1.1m operating surplus. This leaves the society vulnerable to disasters such as the foot-and-mouth outbreak of 2001, which saw the show cancelled.
One of his top priorities is to increase the share of the rest of the income, including playing landlord to a list of about 25 tenants headed by the Quality Hotel and Secure Air Parks; and letting out space to other shows and exhibitions. Over the past couple of years, customers have included everyone from the World Karate Championships to a JLS pop concert to Scottish Kennel Club dog shows. Clearly, however, there is less business than Hutt would like.
"Across the whole year, we are only 50% full," he says. "You'll never achieve 100%, but we want to grow this income area in a way that gives the society much better stability to weather the ups and downs."
To achieve this, he has upped the marketing budget by about 50% to £150,000 to build a new events website and take out adverts in the exhibitions and music press.
"Exhibitors have been telling us we weren't on the radar before," he says, in the closest thing to a criticism of the previous regime. "We have invited them up to come and see what we do."
The other thing in Hutt's in-tray has been overseeing the development of the 290-acre site. This has been made trickier by the RHASS's neighbours at the airport, who decided a few years ago that they needed to take over a large chunk of Ingliston to cope with a wild-eyed expansion plan that was abruptly checked by the recession. RHASS had been planning to move to the 400-acre Norton Farm on the other side of the M8, but then former airport owner BAA announced that it would not now need much of the Ingliston site until 2030.
The society then developed a new 20-year masterplan, which got council approval around the time that Hutt joined. Intended to turn Ingliston into a "world-class exhibition and event venue", it involves putting up two hotels, adding several new conference and events halls, putting up about 10 more office buildings and making various layout changes.
Some of this work will be done from RHASS's coffers, which includes a bank balance of almost £2m, but most will require developers and operators. The only one on the slate so far is the Holiday Inn, which will put up an Express hotel at Ingliston next year.
But to complicate matters, Norton Farm has been put up for sale. So having decided that it needn't worry about its move for many years, RHASS has had to think again. The word is that it has bid for the site, which if successful would presumably turn its development plans upside down. Hutt does not deny that RHASS is bidding.
"We have made no secret that we have a strategic interest because it is designated in [the council's] masterplan for Scotland's national showground. We have respected the confidentiality of the process and it's still not completed," he says.
The other wild card is that BAA sold the airport several months ago to a consortium backed by General Electric. They could easily tear up BAA's plans and do something completely different. Hutt simply says he has started talking to them and is waiting to see how the situation develops.
One thing he is keen to underline, however, is RHASS's importance – implying that the organisation has felt overlooked in the past. "If you were to ask the average person to rank the economic impacts of the airport, the Edinburgh Festival and the society, we would be firmly third. But the numbers are £261m from the airport, £257m for the festival and £250m for the society. The Royal Highland Show is probably about £100m.
"We don't want to throw our weight about, but it's important for the Scottish economy that all these organisations work together. The previous debate was about the airport or the Royal Highland Show. We are saying it's about how you accommodate both. We need them both to be successful."
Those at the council and the airport can decode that message and act accordingly.