Sussex Life visits the South of England Show
PUBLISHED: 08:31 29 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:27 20 February 2013
Tens of thousands of people turned out to enjoy this year's South of England Show, the region's biggest and most important countryside event
Tens of thousands of people turned out to enjoy this year's South of England Show, the regions biggest and most important countryside event
This years attendance of almost 75,000 people showed that, whatever the weather, the South of England Show at Ardingly is a must-see event.
New agriculture minister James Paice told a media breakfast at the Show that the new coalition Government would be backing farming. In a positive message he said his teams remit was to drive forward excellence in food production. He spoke about the importance of food labelling stating the country of origin, as well as the need to remove rules and regulations which were damaging to the success of Britains agriculture.
Before he left, the Minister joined the Marquess of Abergavenny, the Societys President, for the official opening of the Show. They were introduced to children from Jigsaw Independent Day Nursery, in Scaynes Hill, dressed as bees to reflect this years theme The Year of the Bee.
This highlighted the plight facing the humble bee and its vital role in the eco-system. The message was in evidence across the show from a 4ft- high hive in Pig Village to house young piglets, to the aptly named musical group Wildhoney. There were also displays of live bee hives, an array of honey and other bee-derived products displayed on many exhibits across the showground, including the NFU Mutual Insurance stand.
David Staples, the Shows Chairman of Bees and Honey, the theme had been very well received. I believe we managed to get the message across, loud and clear, he said. And now many more people are aware of the dangers threatening to wipe out our wild bee population and the devastating effect this would have on us all.
Across the three days of the Show, more than 1,500 horses took part in the many competitions, and the crowds had a chance to see everything from tiny ponies to the majestic display of the massive Heavy Horses.
It is the classic rural icons which attract the biggest crowds, according to Brian Williams, Chairman of the Show Society.
Many European farmers came to the show in celebratory mood as this year marked the 30th anniversary of a very successful, yet unique international exchange scheme. International Farmlink was launched in 1980 as Eurolink, since when it has granted travel bursaries to dozens of the regions farmers to allow them to explore Europe-wide practices and to learn from our Continental neighbours in this international exchange scheme.
One of the schemes founders, Paddy Cumberlege, from Newick, was rewarded for his tireless work on behalf of the South of England Agricultural Society in many respects. He was presented with the 2010 Fellowship Award of Honour in recognition of many years of unstinting support.
Campaigning dairy farmer, Phil Hook from Hailsham, who successfully led the local farmers resistance which saved his towns historic livestock market, received one of the countys top agricultural honours. He was presented with the Award of Honour by The Marquess of Abergavenny on the first day of the Show.
Elsewhere across the 150-acre showground there were increased entries in the flower marquee which resulted in a riot of colour from award-winning floral displays and garden designs. The Forestry and Wildlife section is always popular and this year organisers reported an increased interest in their displays and exhibits which allow visitors close proximity to animals.
The chance to get personal with cuddly things was extended in Fur and Feather where the impressive exhibit was enhanced with a Victorian tableau of poultry-keeping in a bygone era.
Traditional skills in the hands of teenagers is an eclectic mix, but standards in the highly popular Young Craftsman of the Year Competition were as high as ever. A special prize was given this year for an innovative bee hive which reflected the Shows theme. The overall winner was Greg Miles from Northbrook College in Worthing for his chest made from burr walnut and wenge.
The Shows President got to grips with one of this years innovations the EcoVillage. Lord Abergavenny tried an environmentally friendly electric bike before presenting the Presidents Trophy. This was awarded to Neil Burke, from Oxted, who has been a member of the Shows honorary veterinary team almost since the events inception. Now retired, he continues to run Veterinary Control.