Suffolk Show: Action-packed line-up for county’s annual showcase event

The Southdown Sheep Society is holding its annual breed show at the Suffolk Show this year

The Southdown Sheep Society is holding its annual breed show at the Suffolk Show this year - Credit: Archant

THE Suffolk Agricultural Association has unveiled details of its plans for this year’s Suffolk Show, as the event continues to bounce-back from the abandonment of last year’s second day.

Woodbridge-based 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault) will be giving a demonstration of battlefield br

Woodbridge-based 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault) will be giving a demonstration of battlefield bridge building at the 2013 Suffolk Show - Credit: Cpl Obi Igbo

A Met Office warning of gale-force winds forced the 2012 show to be called off just minutes after its gates opened on day two, leaving the event facing a loss of around £500,000.

The SAA, which stages the annual showcase event at its Trinity Park home on the edge of Ipswich, had already made it clear that the show would not suffer any financial hangover by announcing that it would absorb the loss from its reserves rather than encumber the show with an on-going deficit.

And, at a Press conference earlier this week, the association revealed that this year’s show appears to have benefited from the publicity generated by last year’s cancellation, with many new sponsors signing up in addition to established supporters returning.

The sponsorship target of £115,000 for this year’s show has already been exceeded by about £20,000, with 10% of sponsors being new to the show, and demand for trade stand space is also well up on last year.

Honorary show director David Nunn, who will stand down at the end of this year’s show after three years in the role, said: “They say every cloud has a silver lining and maybe the problem of last year has helped this year’s show.

“Certainly, everything is going extremely well, with the sponsorship target having been exceeded by £20,000.”

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The increase in sponsorship also means changes to the layout alongside the Grand Ring for this year’s show. The former president’s box has been removed to accommodate an expanded ringside club area, with the tented area continuing to join the vice-presidents’ marquee.

The new look will include use of new glass-fronted structures with solid sides which were first introduced at the Olympic Games last year.

Within the Grand Ring, the line-up of attractions will again include a military demonstration but, after two years’ of airbourne displays by the Army Air Corps from Wattisham, this year’s activities will be entirely ground-based, with the 23rd Engineer Regiment from Rock Barracks, near Woodbridge, sending two teams to compete in constructing a temporary bridge.

However, an Apache helicopter from Wattisham will feature among a number of static exhibits within a “Military Village” where the USAF bases at Lakenheath and Mildenhall will be represented at the show for the first time, in the form of a demonstration military hospital.

Also due to appear in the Grand Ring are the Broke FMX freestyle motocross display team, along with top class Show Jumping – with entrants including Sharon Ann Hunt, an Olympic bronze medal winner from the Beijing games – and national qualifiers for the Shetland Pony Grand National.

The show will also again host Horse of the Year Show qualifiers for the Working Hunter Pony and Mountain and Moorland Working Hunter Pony sections, as well as Royal International Horse Show qualifiers for Ridden Hunters, Working Hunters, Hacks, Cobs and Riding Horses, Skewbald and Piebald, Ridden Ponies and Show Hunter Ponies.

Continuing the equine theme, the Lusitano horse display team Olá! will bring some traditional Portuguese style to the President’s Ring and the Percheron Horse Society will, for the third year running, be staging its main breed event at the Suffolk Show. With the usual strong entry of Suffolk horses, alongside Shires and Clydesdales as well, nearly 200 heavy horses are expected at the show.

A new display within the Equine Village will also help visitors to distinguish between the various breeds of horse, with many examples being on show within a stable block near the Trinity Ring.

Other entertainment, at different locations around the showground, will include the return of Titan, the giant dancing robot, the Jitterbug Dancers, who will be demonstrating and teaching dances of the 1940s, the Living Statues, who surprised many an unsuspecting visitor at last year’s show, a Caribbean steel band and the Military Wives Choir from Wattisham. Glasswells, meanwhile, plans to include a skating rink at part of its stand at the show.

There will again be nearly 400 competitive classes for farm livestock, including nearly 30 breeds of cattle and a similar variety of sheep, with the Southdown Sheep Society holding its annual breed show.

There will also be both pedigree and commercial classes for pigs, with the commercial classes to be followed by a sale, giving members of the public the chance to bid for a pig to be butchered for the freezer.

The Farminanglia demonstration area will this year have sheep as its theme, reflecting this year’s presidency of the SAA of sheep breeder Stephen Cobbald from Acton, near Sudbury.

Within the area, students from Suffolk New College will demonstrate wool weaving and host a fashion show of garments they have made. There will also be a butchery demonstration and a chance for families to cook a lamb recipe together.

On day two of the show, the Farminanglia area will also host a “cook-off” between the two finalists in the SAA’s new Suffolk Farming Schools competition for seven- to 11-year-olds. Five teams will take part in a variety of activities on the first day of the show, with the top two going forward to the final.

The main food hall, the Adnams Food and Drink Experience, continues to grow and will this year feature 70 stands offering an opportunity to buy and, in many cases, to try quality regional produce. Adnams will be hosting beer and spirit tasting sessions, with both its brewer and its distiller on hand.

Healthy Ambitions is sponsoring a free to take home programme of recipes using local and seasonal produce, contributed by chefs taking part in cookery demonstrations, and has also sponsored a new Family Health Trail, taking visitors to eight venues around the showground.

The Greene King Eat Street area will again bring a touch of “café culture” to the showground, this year including a lawned area where visitors can enjoy eating the food and drink they have just bought, alongside the Trinity Ring.

The Suffolk Sports Village will offer an opportunity to learn about and try out more than 40 sports, including gymnastics, archery, netball, tennis, cycling and judo. Optua and the Suffolk Disability Sports Academy will provide information for those with disabilities.

A new feature at the show this year will be the Newmarket Experience, featuring two race horse simulators and a display from the National Horseracing Museum.

Suffolk New College has become the new sponsor of the Flower and Garden Experience, marking the start of its new horticulture course.

Seed company Thompson & Morgan will create a display of vegetables grown from its own seeds, there will be an increased line-up of local growers and suppliers of plants and shrubs and there will also be six model gardens. The theme of the flower arrangement competitions this year will be “Proverbs and Sayings”.

Bordering the site will be a new Homes and Gardens area, showcasing products including deck spa baths, home offices, conservatory accessories and furniture.

Fifth Avenue, the high-end fashion village introduced in 2012, will return this year, amid strong interest from boutiques around the region. A Pimms tent has also been added this year.

Many regulars will also be returning to the other retail aisles, alongside some new ones, and space for agricultural machinery has been expanded, including an enlarged stand for Claas which is celebrating its centenary this year.

The 2013 Suffolk Show takes place at Trinity Park on Wednesday and Thursday, May 29 and 30. Ticket prices have been held at last year’s level, with a family ticket purchased in advance, covering two adults, two children and car parking, costing £40, representing a saving of £18 compared with on-the-day prices.

Individual prices are: Adults £18 pre-show/£20 on-the-day; Children (aged four to 16) £5.50/£7; and Senior Citizens (60-plus) £16/£18. Tickets can be ordered online at or by calling 01473 707117.