The countdown begins: 100 days until the Suffolk Show at Trinity Park, Ipswich
- Credit: Archant
Logistics boss Bee Kemball speaks to Sarah Chambers about the preparations for her first of three years in charge of the Suffolk Show after taking over the role from Bill Baker.
A week after last year’s Suffolk Show finished, Bee Kemball was already planning for this year’s event.
The incoming show director, whose family farms in east Suffolk, said progress so far had been “brilliant”.
But now the real countdown begins, with 100 days left to put on the county’s biggest spectacular of the year.
Since the middle of last year, the logistics boss has been juggling her day job heading up Ipswich-based Debach Enterprises, looking after children Perdi, 11, and Fleur, 13, and organising the Suffolk Show.
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“It’s like having two full-time jobs at the moment, then obviously the usual wife and mother responsibilities when you get home. I don’t watch a lot of TV, I think it’s fair to say,” she said.
It’s a tall order, but Bee is unfazed by the scale of the task.
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“I’m not nervous - I’m excited,” she said. “I would say very excited.”
When she was asked by a committee made up of past show directors some while back to become last year’s show director Bill Baker’s deputy, effectively paving the way for her three years in charge, Bee said she felt “very honoured”.
Her family has been involved in the Suffolk Agricultural Association, which runs the show, for many years, and she herself has been a part of the show all her life.
“It’s a huge honour to be asked to be custodian for three years of the Suffolk Show. Obviously you feel very humble they could entrust it to you,” she said.
She sees her job as continuing what’s come before, and in building on what’s already there.
“Being female, I feel it’s very much more about me being a custodian,” she said.
“The ambition is very much to build on the foundation of the last two years. An awful lot has been done to improve attractions for all kinds of visitors.
“We are hoping that the gate numbers will be more like the 2015 gate numbers rather than 2016 (when they were hit by the cold and damp conditions on the first day).”
The financial aim remains to break even, but the real aim of the agricultural association in putting on the event is to provide a showcase for farming, to educate and entertain, and, more broadly, to provide a platform for businesses and the many other cultural, sporting and social activities the county has to offer.
“We just want to make sure we are continuing to appeal to that broad spectrum,” said Bee.
As well as drawing more visitors from Suffolk, she hopes that she can attract more people from throughout the eastern counties, and across the generational divide from small children to grandparents.
Last year, the theme of the campaign leading into the show was ducks. This year it’s another livestock favourite - sheep.
“It’s obviously been an ongoing campaign we are running the animals,” she said.
“We felt this was the year of the sheep. We like the fact that they look slightly scary and cute at the same time. People have loved it. The Christmas campaign with them in their woolly hats has been particularly successful.”
She admits that putting together the show for the first time has been “quite an uphill learning curve”, but she was looking forward to a “fabulous” event.
There are now just 100 days to go until the show, which takes place on Wednesday, May 31, and Thursday, June 1, at Trinity Park in Ipswich. It will, as ever, showcase the best of Suffolk’s food and drink and agricultural heritage, while providing a great half-term day out for families.
“There are thousands of things to see and do at the Suffolk Show and each year we make sure that there’s something new for visitors to enjoy,” said Bee.
“We are all looking forward to this year’s show and we are excited to welcome visitors from across Suffolk and further afield for the county’s biggest day out.”
Tickets for this year’s Suffolk Show are now on sale – save £5 per ticket by purchasing in advance. Advanced tickets cost £22 while children aged under 15 will once again receive free entry. For more information and to book tickets visit www.suffolkshow.co.uk or call the ticket hotline on 01473 707117.
The Suffolk Show is run and managed by the Suffolk Agricultural Association. As a charity, the SAA’s core purpose is to promote the importance of food, farming and the countryside to the economy and character of Suffolk through the Suffolk Show itself and a series of education programmes aimed at young people in schools and colleges.