100 days to go: Suffolk Show goers ‘in for some lovely surprises’

Suffolk show day 2

Suffolk show day 2 - Credit: Lucy taylor

Suffolk Show-goers are in for “some lovely surprises and some fantastic content”, the farmer steering this year’s event has promised.

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- Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Show director Bill Baker said he was “excited” as behind-the-scenes preparations for the well-loved event, which takes place in 100 days on May 27 and 28, move up a gear.

“I can guarantee no one will be disappointed,” he said.

With a new chief executive at the helm at Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA), which hosts the show at Trinity Park, Ipswich, this year’s event is particularly hotly anticipated.

Events high-flier Nicola Bateman, who has international experience, became the first woman to steer the association in its 184-year history when she took on the role in January, after Chris Bushby stepped down last year.

Bill Baker, Suffolk Show director, is pictured in Drinkstone.

Bill Baker, Suffolk Show director, is pictured in Drinkstone. - Credit: Archant


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“Nicola has only been here a month, but she’s finding her feet incredibly well,” he said. “I am absolutely delighted with where we are with planning. She’s a very organised and efficient lady. Things don’t rest for very long. I love that efficiency. The whole thing now is centring around trying to drive ticket sales.”

Mr Baker, who is in the second year of his three-year term heading up the organisation of the show said the focus early on for this year’s event had been on improving the technology which underpins the event and updating machinery, as well as rigorously examining the finances. The SAA heavily subsidises the show, but its aim over time is to make the event break-even.

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“We have had already a year of enormous change and we have spend a long time reviewing budgets, reviewing expenditure and trying to drive out unnecessary costs where we can,” he said.

A “sensible financial investment” had been made in a topographical survey of the showground to make work on the layout more efficient. As a result, this year, GPS will be used for the first time to set out spaces, sizes and avenues. Tractors, mowers and loader equipment have been updated, and all tickets will be scanned in on entry to the show for the first time. This will enable the organisers to get a much more accurate idea of who is attending the event and where they are coming from. From this, the SAA will be able to build a picture, and work out its marketing strategy for future years.

“We are trying to invest to make savings for the future,” explained Mr Baker.

Last week, an army of 25 farmers and farm staff carried out maintenance work around the showground as preparations for the big event get under way. It had been a “fantastic” day, he said, and illustrated the send of camaraderie among the many volunteers who make the show possible.

“For me, those 100 days go incredibly quickly,” said Mr Baker.

Both sponsorship and stands spaces were filling up well, he said.

Among the changes event goers will notice this year is that the main entrance will become the Bucklesham gate, rather than the Nacton one. It will provide a more central gateway to the event, and provide a rural woodland introduction to those entering the showground, said Mr Baker. Ringside clubs will be moved around with members’ and vice-presidents’ areas moved to a different side, while the lifestyle area will move into a marquee and will be linked to the flower show to provide a more cohesive experience.

“It will certainly be familiar, but they’ll notice some changes,” he said.

For more information, and to book your discounted tickets for the event, go to www.suffolkshow.co.uk.

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