The Suffolk Show breaks even following successful drive to attract families and young people
More than 90,200 people attended this year’s Suffolk Show – the best gate number in recent years.
The boost in attendance, announced today by event organisers the Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA), follows a major drive to attract new visitors, families and young people, as well as re-engaging those who have come in the past.
The SAA also said the event, which costs more than £1.5million to stage, broke even financially – a long-held ambition for the charity.
In recent years, the SAA has propped up the show through its own funds after poor weather – including a disastrous year in 2012 when the event had to be abandoned due to dangerously high winds – hit incomes.
The figures come as a boost to the charity, which aims to raise awareness of food, farming and the countryside through the annual county showcase, and through education initiatives such as the School Farm and Country Fair.
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Income generated through this year’s show will enable the SAA to invest in measures aimed at enhancing the visitor experience, as well as in developing external education programmes in partnership with local schools and colleges.
Show director Bill Baker said he was “delighted” at the figures, which reveal an increase in visitor numbers over both days.
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“It’s a big investment, so it’s nice when the public rewards us by turning up in the numbers they did. It’s given us a confidence we are putting on an offering that people want to attend,” he said.
“I would really like to thank everyone who came to this year’s county show – our regular visitors who support us every year and all those people who decided to come for the first time or after a break for a few years – and I hope they experienced the truly amazing mix that is the Suffolk Show.
“By supporting the show, they are helping us achieve our charitable objectives of informing people about, and sharing in, our farming heritage and the importance of food, farming and the countryside to Suffolk’s economy and overall character.
“The show is a unique showcase and celebration of everything that’s good about Suffolk and I’m really pleased so many people came and experienced this fantastic family day out. The show doesn’t just happen and takes a huge amount of time and investment.
“I would like to acknowledge all the people who invest in the show – all our sponsors and exhibitors and our volunteer stewards and judges –as without them it just wouldn’t happen, along with the wonderful staff team at Trinity Park who all contribute to a first class county show and overall great day out. What’s more, this year, we were even blessed with some great weather.”
The SAA believes the increased attendance is largely due to a change in policy to allow free entry to under 15s making the show more appealing to a family audience.
The policy also supports the association’s objectives to raise awareness of food, farming and the countryside among the younger generation and to encourage them to consider future careers in the sector. New measures were also introduced aimed at continuing to improve the visitor experience.
Changes this year included a revised layout to make the show easier to navigate and new local food catering concessions to showcase local produce as well as new exhibitors and attractions.
An intensive marketing and PR campaign ran in the months leading up to the show, aimed at promoting the value of the event and the range of things to experience.
Next year’s Suffolk Show will be held on June 1 and 2 at Trinity Park.