Farming feature: 2013 Suffolk Show just a few days away

Day one of The Suffolk Show 2012.

Day one of The Suffolk Show 2012. - Credit: Archant

The 182nd Suffolk Show is just 10 days away and Show director David Nunn is excited.

This is his third and final Show as director, but he won’t be heading off for a rest. From June 1 he will become vice chairman of the Suffolk Agricultural Association to incoming chairman Robert Rous.

But he can’t think about that now – there is a Show to put on. “And it’s going to be a great one,” he says. “These last few days are just as important as the previous months, weeks and days of planning and preparation. “

For the past fortnight and up until the show gates open David drives around checking the 100acres of the 300 acre site that becomes the show ground. With Trinity Park now used for so many outside events during the year, more maintenance is required. More than 300sqm of turf has been laid, repair to the damage caused by rabbits, hedges clipped, trees pruned grass irrigated and cut to just the right length.

“We have to constantly adjust the mower blades to ensure it is at the right level. The Show jumpers want it about 4.5-5” as do the working hunters, to provide a bit of cushioning, whereas those showing want it a bit shorter. That’s the amount of detail that goes in and why people always talk about our site being immaculate. That is what counts at this stage. If you don’t start off with a high standard you will never reach one,” he said.

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Fences and signs have all been painted, stabling stained, the cattle buildings washed down and everything checked for conforming to rigorous health and safety standards.

David has daily communication with the senior stewards for each area, ensuring they have all they need and there are no potential glitches. Earlier this week they received a full briefing, including emergency procedures for evacuation, building on the lessons learned from last year. Meanwhile in the office he is confirming times and locations for the many displays and street acts. Mighty Titan the 8m robot returns on the first day performing his musical spectacle and the Wattisham Ladies Choir will be singing by the bandstand later at 4pm. All around the site the street theatre and musicians and dancers are performing ensuring amusement and entertainment to suit all tastes throughout the day.

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An Olympic and Paralympic medallists and torch bearer have just agreed to attend so he is working out how best to give them profile to benefit the Show. Awarding some of the 200 trophies in the Grand or President’s Ring needs to be worked into the prize giving schedule but so it doesn’t clash with their appearances in the Sport Village. A new request for an ITV Anglia presenter to make an award in time for the afternoon news also needs accommodating.

Agriculture and livestock has always been at the centre of the Show and this year exhibitor numbers for livestock are some of the highest on record, particularly sheep. 140 are registered for the Southdown classes, the breed holds its Breed Society Show hence the increased numbers, but that has also generated interest in the other classes. Additional sheep penning and marquees have been brought in to accommodate the 575 sheep entries and extra stabling brought in for the horses.

About 1000 straw bales are just arriving - tradition says sheep, pigs, goats, beef cattle, rare breeds and light horses prefer to have barley bales, the other livestock have wheat. There is still negotiation over whether some of the Olympic jumps will be used for the show jumping.

During a busy week David, together with his deputy Bill Baker and executive director Christopher Bushby, has visited both USAF bases at Lakenheath and Mildenhall to hand out family tickets in recognition of the support they give to the UK. Similar visits to hand over 100 family tickets to each of the British army bases have taken place at Wattisham, Woodbridge, Honnington and Colchester Barracks.

“Online ticket sales are currently 50 per cent up on sales last year, so obviously there is some confidence out there and I encourage anyone who hasn’t booked their tickets or renewed their membership to get on and do it and look forward to welcoming everyone to the Show on May 29 and 30,” said David.

Livestock and equine by the numbers

• 176 Heavy Horse entries

• 20 Pairs Turnouts.

• 1506 Light Horse entries. Increased entries in qualifying classes (RIHS, HOYS, Olympia).

• 172 Show jumping

• 400 Cattle stalls. Eleven new exhibitors.

• Australian Lowline - new breed represented in Any Other Beef Breed Classes.

• 575 sheep 14 new exhibitors (including six Southdown for the National Breed Show).

• 139 sheep entries in Southdown classes.

• 76 pig entries. Five new exhibitors.

• 109 goat pens. Five new or returning exhibitors

Long Service Awards

The agricultural industry is like no other in terms of length of service. People commit themselves to the business of farming in many diverse ways, but few appear to leave the industry, starting as teenagers and staying to clock up in some cases more than 60 years service.

These achievements will be recognised at the Show on Wednesday at 2.15pm when Show president Stephen Cobbald will present 11 people with awards recognising more 523 years. Special awards will also be given to four people who have supported the industry in allied or related roles.

Suffolk’s Farming School of the Year initiative...

...reached the semi-finals last week as five Suffolk primary schools, selected from 45 for their spectacular sheep designs that featured in last week’s County pages, competed in a workshop activity held at Trinity Park with Cook With Me Kids. Judges were so impressed with the enthusiasm, high standards, cooking skills and knowledge that they wanted to award them all with a place in the finals. By a sheep’s breath Heath Primary School, Kesgrave; Britannia Primary School in Ipswich and Barnham Primary Thetford won a place in the final to be held on Thursday May 30 at 2.30pm in the Farminanglia marquee at the Show where they will make a five minute presentation in any style (on the cat walk) about their discoveries along their ‘sheep journey’.

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