That was the year that was

THE Suffolk Agricultural Association wishes all readers of this page, businesses, exhibitors and sponsors of the Suffolk Show at its various educational activities, conferences and awards and users of Trinity Park Conference and Events Centre a very happy Christmas and successful 2013.

It has not been the easiest year for many of us. We didn’t think we would have to cancel one day of the Suffolk Show, said executive Director Christopher Bushby, a great disappointment and financial loss for so many who put so much time and effort into being involved. But we did with remarkable results not least with the incredible amount of support from equine competitors and livestock exhibitors, sponsors and tradestand holders and membership who had loyally attended the Show for so many years. That goodwill is already translating into early bookings for the 2013 show – see the 2013 Showstoppers column for more details.

But 2012 was not all bad news. We have celebrated in many other areas. Our educational activities resulted in at least 5000 school pupils ranging from aged 7-16 discovering in very hands-on ways more about food and farming in all its guises and some even planting potatoes for the first time.

The annual horticultural conference drew the biggest audience to date to hear national and international gardening experts and specialists share their experiences, give inspiration and literally “wow” with their schemes.

Our new-look regional agricultural awards ceremony recognised and rewarded farmers who are diversifying and in many instances creating new employment opportunities throughout the county and East Anglia, as well as ensuring Suffolk is firmly on the national map for excellence in food production, attention to sustainability and the environment. The standard of entries increases year on year and such was the success, all our sponsors have confirmed support for 2013 and a new category recognising achievements of the young in the industry will be launched.

We have expanded our farriery facility and are delighted to announce that Darren Bazin AWCF, three times world champion, will run a hands-on clinic on Friday 1 March and judge the Eastern Counties Spring Championship on Saturday 2 March 2013. The first pre-diploma training day in the region will be held on April 6 and details will be announced in January.

2012 was the year the SAA brought International polo to Suffolk for the very first time. Turning a large greenfield site into a first rate polo pitch flanked with marquees and hospitality was a tough but rewarding feat as the sun shone and cars streamed in to enjoy a social day of fast and furious chukkas, picnics and entertainment. Mark June 29 as the date for Trinity Park Polo in 2013 and see www.internationalpolo.co.uk for advanced ticket sales and the latest information.

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We have employed two new office assistants, one is a former UCS intern, and a new fulltime sales executive for our commercial arm Trinity Park Events. The themed Christmas parties have been a sell out as once again businesses enjoy festive fun and food all created by the Trinity Park team.

We are optimistic the Suffolk Show on May 29 and 30 will once again delight and inspire. And if you’re still looking for the perfect Christmas present, tickets are now on sale online at discounted prices at www.suffolkshow/tickets.

2013 Suffolk Showstoppers…

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, so we’ll be attempting to have many of them…several ring acts have confirmed…sheepdogs at work, the Sheepshow, gundogs, Jitterbug dancers…and around the site there will be music from the Caribbean Steel Band in Eat Street, Street theatre acts entertaining around every corner, and the amazing giant Titan will tower above it all….The NEW flower show caf� is expanded and looks very different and a NEW Made in Suffolk zone has its first takers…latest tradestand figures are up on this time last year and 30 inquiries from potential new tradestand holders augur well for a great shopping experience.

Five gold rings?....Well there are actually eleven showing rings at the Suffolk Show, and constructed of posts and rails, writes Show Director David Nunn. “It’s at this time of year that we finalise the ring timetables – not an easy task when you consider that we need to judge 723 classes over the two days. People often ask us where on earth do we begin? The great relief is that we have been staging it for 180-odd years, so we have a bit of an idea. However, it is always a fine line between packing in as much as we can and not running the risk of over running. There is also consideration for how long classes will take, how long the course builders need to facilitate the 16 1/2 hours of showjumping, the logistics of livestock and equine passing each other, the compatibility of the lunchtime grand ring display with the animals. For instance everyone loves seeing the horses in harness, but we have to ensure they do not pass on the horse walks with other animals as the jangling of the harnesses upsets them! We have a top class team of judges who judge more than one class, so we have to check the logistics for them, ensuring they can reach the other rings in time.

The planning starts with the debrief of the previous year which takes place in July in conjunction with the senior stewards for the livestock and equine classes, and any revisions are discussed and put in place.

In the Grand ring we start with timing of the Grand Parade, after all, agriculture is always kept at the heart of the Show and everyone loves to see these impressive champions, then work other displays round it. Ensuring we have a great variety of displays that run to time will be my priority in these next few weeks.