It is the season of agricultural shows and we can only hope that the dreadful weather of last year will be but a distant memory, and that the public will turn out and support these great events which offer a truly special day out for all the family.
This coming Saturday is the Heathfield Show, a terrific one day agricultural show which is a favourite amongst the farming fraternity. Set on the green field site of picturesque Tottingworth Farm, Broadoak home of the Browning family, on the outskirts of Heathfield. This year the show was amongst the eight finalists of The Guardian Favourite Agricultural Show of The Year Award. Considering there were over 90 entries competing for the accolade from all over the country, the Heathfield Show Society should be congratulated for getting this far.
The ever popular Monster Trucks ring display will be returning, and the sheep, cattle, pigs and horse showing classes all have good entries. For those diesel heads amongst us, there will be a huge selection of vintage tractors as well as shiny new ones of every colour and preference on the agricultural machinery trade stands.
The South of England Show takes place on 6th, 7th and 8th June. The theme for this year is poultry which will be reflected throughout the showground with some very innovative ideas which will educate, amuse and enlighten visitors with a vast array of information and inspiration relating to chickens.
It is good to hear that the stock classes are well supported and up on numbers from last year. This is encouraging and will ensure that the legendary cattle parade with the inspiring and informative commentary by Mark Cleverden from Hobbs Parker, will be as good as ever. It is interesting and worth noting that each year surveys taken from the departing public report that the cattle parade was the highlight of the show for the majority of visitors. This would not be so without the hard work, dedication and commitment of the farmers and stockmen who bring the stock to the shows and turn them out to such a high standard.
Once again the entries for the Young Craftsmen of the Year Competition are up. The standard of work produced by the young entrants is always quite exceptional, it lifts the spirits to see the extraordinary items created in wood, iron work, ceramics, glass and fabrics. To know our schools and colleges are producing such talented craftsmen for the future is encouraging and to view their work is an enormous privilege.
The Society’s chairman David Allam, the Director Deborah Barber, the staff, council members and the hundreds of volunteers, all of whom work incredibly hard to ensure the show produces three excellent days of exceptional entertainment, education, interest and some surprises, do so in the hope and trust that thousands of visitors will come to this wonderful event in the heart of Sussex. This year the president Penelope Keith will attend on all three days; her support and enthusiasm for all the events staged by the Society throughout her year in office has been encouraging and inspiring. She has brought laughter, encouragement and smiles and she and her husband Rodney Timpson are looking forward visiting every corner of the showground.
Originally agricultural societies and shows were established to educate farmers about new technology, equipment and breeds of livestock, and they tended to move around the country. As costs escalated most found a permanent showground and began to open their gates to the general public as a much needed source of revenue. Today agricultural show societies stage a broad selection of events, many of which are aimed at educating the public about the importance of farming, the countryside, buying local produce and eating fresh produce.
The South of England holds open days for school children which last year was attended by nearly 3,000 children from schools across the South East. Several conferences were held for farmers and landowners with high profile speakers including government ministers, academics and the President of the NFU.
Last year shows across the country were hit hard by the appalling weather, many were cancelled or had to close their gates due to waterlogged car parks and the hazards created by marquees flying through the air as gales buffeted show grounds. Let us hope this year the weather will be kinder and more moderate allowing the public to attend and show their support, encouragement and appreciation for all those involved in staging these terrific events including the organisers, the stockmen, farmers, judges, stewards, trade stands, stalls, entertainers, ring displays, craftsmen, caterers, volunteer vets, doctors, musicians, students, car park attendants and Uncle Tom Cobbly and all.
Have a wonderful day out be entertained, educated and amused, and of course don’t miss the opportunity to shop until you drop at the vast array of wonderful trade stands.
Corola Godman Irvine