‘Mixed’ reaction to dogs ban at county showpiece

SUFFOLK Show organisers are standing by their controversial decision to ban dogs following a “mixed” reaction from show-goers.

The ban, announced in January, followed complaints about dog fouling. Show organisers said it had been a difficult decision, and recognised it would take time for show-goers to adjust, but said it had been taken for health, hygiene and welfare reasons.

“The talk of the show so far has been the dogs and our decision to ask people not to bring their dogs into the showground area,” said show director David Nunn.

“We have received mixed comments from about 20 people. The comments and e-mails have been equally divided between disappointment and anger and congratulations to us for taking a stand to not allow dogs – and many of the latter are from dog owners who feel it is not the right place for their dogs.

“We are convinced this is kind to the animals and are standing by our decision.”

Dogs will continue to take part in events, though. The dog show has a new entrance and separate area reached via Straight Road with its own catering, trade stand and toilet facilities which has met with approval from the organisers of this part of the show.

Several new marquee areas will be introduced, the biggest being the new Eat Street, an avenue area where families can select a meal or snack from catering stands all selling different products and eat a different meal, but sit together in new picnic-style seating which runs the complete length of the space between the grand ring and light horse ring.

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More than 35 different catering stands will include locally produced or grown foods including game and local meat burgers, new scotch eggs, curries, paella, home made soups and sandwiches, jacket potatoes, stone-baked pizzas, pancakes and a salad bar and provide a tastier alternative to fast food outlets.

Aspalls Cyder barn, with a seating area overlooking the ring, will be at one end, together with a recreation of Elveden Garden where scones and sandwiches and home-made relishes will be on sale and the Ipswich Steel Band will entertain in the centrally located bandstand.

“I am so excited about this new area. We have been inundated with applications for the sites and enthusiasm from trade stand holders who think it is a great idea,” said trade stand officer Paula Slater.

“This will really open up this area of the show and make it more visitor friendly and showcase locally produced consumables.”

Next month sees the launch of online tickets for the Suffolk Show. There are many changes and additions for 2011, all designed to ensure a good day out and to celebrate all the county has to offer is on show.

It is anticipated more than 2000 animals will be on display.

It will be the only agricultural show to host a visiting deputation of about 100 members of the Red Poll Cattle Society from across the globe as part of its annual congress. In addition, two of the visitors who breed Red Poll in Australia are among the judges for these classes. The red poll young handler class will be held on the first day of the show.

This year, cattle will be moved further into the heart of the show and be shown in the Bucklesham ring in the mornings, making them more accessible to the public.

The livestock and equine prize schedules have just been published, together with entry forms which can also be downloaded at www.suffolkshow.co.uk. Further copies are available by sending a C5 stamped addressed envelope to the office.

Closing dates are as follows: Equine: March 25, horses; April 8, horse shoeing competition and April 21, show jumping.

Livestock: April 1 for booking goat pens; April 15, sheep/sheep- dogs/pigs; April 29, Book cattle stalls; May 6, confirm goat entry details; May 23, Confirm entry details for cattle.