Children aged 14 and under will enter free of charge and dog owners can once again bring their four legged family members to the Suffolk Show when the gates of Trinity Park open on May 28 and 29 next year.
That’s the word from Bill Baker, the new honorary show director, who earlier today (Tuesday) announced the good news – the first, he hinted, of several introductions to the annual two day event. “Apart from being the county’s biggest occasion for agriculture and business, the Suffolk Show is a true family day out. We want to enable as many families as possible to be able to attend and experience all the county has to offer,” he said.
“The family is our biggest audience and we need to make the Show not only the best quality day out for them, but also make it financially possible,” he said. “Times are tough for everyone. By allowing children to enter free, and incorporating even more participatory events for families to enjoy together, their day will be a fun, value for money experience.
“During the past couple of months my show committee and I have discussed what it is we are offering and what makes a great family experience and the needs of today’s family during a day out. We have looked at the options and agreed our new ticketing policy is family friendly.
“Several families wrote following last years’ show to say they hadn’t attended for a couple of years, but couldn’t believe how much they could see and do without having to spend extra money once they had paid the gate price. Last year Anglia TV filmed a family around the show and highlighted the activities they enjoyed with little additional spend. One visitor sent pictures of her three grandchildren sitting in the grandstand transfixed by the grand parade, and said the pleasure and happiness on their faces at seeing and being so close to the animals made the day worthwhile.
“Our plan is to increase these interactive and hands-on areas. I will be making exciting announcements in the New Year about plans for the new “discovery” areas for 2014.
“It is worth remembering that the Suffolk Agricultural Association’s primary objective as a charity is to help connect people of all ages with agriculture, food and farming. We do not exist to make profits, and indeed the show does not make a profit. Our aim is to create a stimulating environment that enables visitors to relate to how and where food is grown, equip them to make informed buying and eating decisions, and gain a greater understanding of the countryside and rural activities. This includes showcasing the business side at work and attracting the hundreds of tradestands advising or selling equipment, clothing, food and drink and other products for the home and garden.
“During my eight years as chairman of our School Farm and Country Fair, which is held for 4,000 7-9 year olds every April, I saw at first hand children’s hunger to explore and their excitement in discovering life in the countryside and origins of their food. It reminded me, a father of two and stepfather to three, of a child’s delight in getting their hands dirty whether it be composting, making bread, milking cows or goats, planting seeds or even sausage making and cooking. By introducing this free entry, all the family can benefit in this kind of learning and creative experience together – something many had a taste of in the Cook with Me Kids cooking with lamb feature introduced for the first time in the Farminanglia marquee last year.”
“And of course dogs are “workers” and integral to the countryside as well as part of the family. When we made the decision not to allow dogs three years ago it was for genuine reasons. But we always said we would review the situation, which we have. Together with other senior stewards and members, I have visited other shows, talked to their organisers and watched dogs and owners enjoying a happy day out. As an Association we have taken seriously the emails, telephone calls, comments through the social media from dog owners alongside looking at the layout and how we can accommodate them. Dog owners have expressed their disappointment at being unable to attend because dogs are not welcome. Now they need not stay away.
“The decision to welcome dogs back to the Show will involve improving facilities for them, for example more watering points, pooper bins and perhaps even looking at further areas of shade. In this way hopefully it will be more comfortable for everyone.
“All dogs will have to be kept on a lead at all times. There will be areas where they will not be permitted namely the Adnams Food and Drink Experience, Food Theatre and demonstration areas and the members, vice-presidents, directors, and sponsors enclosures and lawns. Our website will give greater detail nearer to the Show dates.
“I want to ensure the Show is truly family friendly and also a worthwhile enjoyable experience for all our visitors, tradestand holders and exhibitors. It must meet its objective to communicate and educate our visitors on all the countryside and agriculture offers in this county and connect them with food production.”
In addition to those aged 14 and under entering free, there is a new price point for tickets for 15-18 year olds who will be charged £5 if purchased in advance (before midnight on May 26) and £10 on the gate.
Adult tickets, which were held at 2012 prices last year, will cost £20 if purchased in advance, an increase of £2, and £25 on the gate. Concessions and seniors will cost £18, again a £2 uplift, and £22 respectively.
“We feel that even at these prices, tickets represent good value for money, especially if bought in advance either online or by telephone. The gate opens at 7.30am on the first day and the day’s programme extends well into the early evening with live music at no extra charge,” Bill added.