The annual Suffolk Show – the county’s biggest two-day event – at Trinity Park is this week. The marquees are now erected, extra utilities installed on site and livestock entries in and registered. But, and unusually for the Show, it is the last minute surge in interest over the past few weeks that has surprised Show Director David Nunn and the Association’s executive director Christopher Bushby.
As this post was added the telephones at Trinity Park were still ringing for last minute tradestand availability. “We are really full but we are trying to squeeze them in where we can,” said Mr Bushby. “Companies are still hoping to find sponsorship opportunities and the final remaining banner sites are just about sold. Our livestock entries are fantastic. There are more than 500 cattle, and nearly the same amount of sheep with the largest number ever registered in the Norfolk Horn and good interest in new Wensleydales. Equine is particularly strong with more than 200 heavy horses – the most we have ever had at the Show and helped by the Percheron breed society deciding to amalgamate its breed Show. Suffolks, our native breed, are well represented in both the in-hand, new ridden and turnouts – singles, pairs and teams (of four).
“Private driving entries are up and there are an impressive 12 classical stagecoaches, which will be a stunning sight. We are one of only a couple of agricultural shows that attract this kind of entry level. It is highly expensive to run these coaches and most, except Rackhams and the military, are owned by syndicates. Farriery entries have topped 122, the most ever in this highly developing business,” he said.
“Agricultural machinery tradestands are strong with many of the latest and largest pieces of machinery on show at our oldest exhibitor Thurlows. Tuckwells continues to be our largest tradestand and has even taken air space this year with the erection of a 15m, five Kilowatt wind turbine installed by Windcrop and designed to demonstrate how forward-thinking farmers can harness wind power to cut costs, reduce carbon and generate free green electricity.
Sustainability and green issues are a big story for the 2011 Show. The Show itself endeavours to be as environmentally friendly as far as possible, by recycling as appropriate and ensuring all grass cuttings and used straw are composted. More than a quarter of the 120 plus new tradestands have products or services relating to eco-issues. The Suffolk Chamber and Suffolk the Greenest County has taken the lead on producing a low carbon footprint map around the 110 acres that comprise the Show and low carbon office.
“The Sports Village has the biggest site ever, measuring about 9250 m2 and now occupies a chunk of space around the Foxhall Gate, north of Flower Show Avenue. All 25 Olympic Have a Go sports are on site and, even more amazingly, 500 sport participants each day to staff the area who have given up their time to help introduce vistors to trying out new sports and making their pledge for 2012.
“So much has happened in the development of attractions and entertainment for this year’s Show to broaden its appeal. We now have the Olympic Mascots Wenlock and Mandeville and have just heard the sports village has been awarded the Inspire mark for excellence by the LOCOG.
Entertainment value is exceptionally high with the bespoke Apache and Lynx display, giant international street artist Titan, the arrival of the UEFA cup and at least seven of the ITFC football team that made it happen. We have a Royal visit from HRH Princess Royal whose many interests will be in full evidence at the Show.
David Nunn continued,”There are so many new and additional parts to the Show.
“For the first time since Hopkin’s Homes Luxurious Lifestyle Pavilion was launched six years ago, four of the region’s leading interior designers will design a bespoke room, designed not only to showcase their individual styles but also to inspire visitors.
“People say the Show remains the same year after year, but with all the extras it just isn’t true. This year we really do have something for everyone. The standard of the Show is phenomenal with strong levels of participation and interest from all the different communities. There is a real sense of expectation.
“We have invested this year in increasing the quality and quantity of food and drink. The new Greene King Eat Street avenue has varied specialist catering from morning to night and is required to use only local and regional produce. At least 10 of the region’s leading celebrity chefs are cooking up a storm in the new Adnams Cookery Theatre and additions to our famous Food Hall include beer flavoured ice-cream. A new field to fork display featuring lamb will demonstrate what we are farmers know best – how to grow and produce food for the people of Suffolk to enjoy.
“We want to remind visitors of the relevance of the Show and encourage them through sampling as well as visiting the displays and obtaining up to the moment advice on growing their own in the Flower and Garden Experience,” he said.
“The Show is an all year round planning event. Once we get to this stage it is tying up the loose ends, ensuring all the tickets have been mailed, last minute logistical issues are ironed out and everything is truly in its place for a great Show. Robert Gray and his estates team of course, like all farmers, could do with a bit more water but the preparation has been ongoing to cope with any eventualities and the grounds are in great condition.
“Our tough decision to ask visitors not to bring dogs to the Show has provoked several unhappy reactions, but also some positive comments and I am delighted to say that Rodney Locksmith and his team at the Dog Show have in excess of 500 entries representing more than 70 different breeds,” he said.