Forecast good as Suffolk Show opens

THE forecast was good and the farm machinery and animals sparkling clean as the Suffolk Show 2003 prepared to open its doors this morning .The show, which has been an annual highlight in the county since 1832, is a huge undertaking, welcoming thousands of visitors over two days.

THE forecast was good and the farm machinery and animals sparkling clean as the Suffolk Show 2003 prepared to open its doors this morning .

The show, which has been an annual highlight in the county since 1832, is a huge undertaking, welcoming thousands of visitors over two days.

This year's countryside spectacular will see nearly 2,000 animals enter the ring in around 500 different livestock classes, from showjumping to terrier races, sheep dog displays and heavy horse turnouts.

Preparations began in March, when many of the tents were installed and the ground irrigated to ensure the turf would be in pristine condition.

Thousands of metres of electric cable were brought into power the event and this week saw many of the traders set up camp on the site, which will be their home for several days.

Sam Steggles, of Robert Paterson Airfield Holsteins, from Long Stratton, Norfolk, was yesterday sprucing up his three Holstein cows and four calves for the dairy classes.

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He said: "They've had their coats clipped and been washed and brushed down so the white is whiter than white and the black, blacker than black. We have to make sure their udders are full. It isn't a case of just bringing them and sticking them in the ring. It's a lot of work.

"We've won prizes before and we're quite confident - but it depends on the opposition."

Joanna Burroughs, of The Oakalby herd from Aldeby, near Beccles, was not looking forward to waking in the early hours to hose down her Friesian entrants.

"The judges will be looking for good deep flanks, a good large capacity and a good milk vein through from the udder. I think we should do OK," she said.

Darren Butler, of Kitchens and Things in Newmarket, one of around 800 stallholders at the show, was unloading toadstool wind chimes onto his display.

He said: "We operate a show team every year. It makes a nice change to get out in the open."

Victoria Tomlinson, 13, was helping her mum Karen polish horticultural equipment on the family display, Tomlinson Ground Care.

Karen, of Buxhall, near Stowmarket, said: "We've been setting up since last week. It is a good chance for new customers to find out what we stock and for former customers to visit us. They can select a few tractors here and arrange for us to take the equipment to their house for a demonstration."

Joe Ferrie, of Derbyshire Security, will be responsible for keeping things in order.

He said: "I try to keep the traffic moving to stop people parking in the road and jamming things up."

Jim Walne , of Walnut Tree Farm, Ipswich, was staying overnight last night to keep a watchful eye on nine Suffolk Punch horses that have been lent to the show for shoeing competitions.

He said: "People employ me to look after them for two days. I do enjoy it but it is a responsibility making sure they have enough feed and water and don't get sick. It is good for the owners as they get up to £100 of shoeing done for nothing."

Chris Bushby, executive director of the Suffolk Agricultural Association, hosts for the event, said: "We're very proud of our showground. The main principle is to show Suffolk at its best. It is a trade event which should encourage investment in the county but it is also about bringing the public in to meet the farming industry that manages the countryside on their doorstep and produces all their food."

His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester was expected to open the show today with many other visiting dignitaries, MEPs and several ambassadors also due to attend.

Some of the country's leading showjumpers will be competing again this year as will the popular Adams Axemen who will feature in the Countryside Ring.

The traditional Grand Parade of livestock in the Grand Ring was scheduled to return this year following the relaxation of disease precautions imposed after the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak.

The Grand Ring will also host the Honda Imps Motorcycle Display Team at 4.45pm tomorrow .

Live bands will make for a carnival atmosphere continuing into the night tonight with the Fab Beatles tribute band starting at 7pm.

The show will be open at the Suffolk Showground from 7.30am today for two days. Tickets cost £11 for adults and £4.50 for children aged 4-16 and £9 for senior citizens. Parking costs £5 per vehicle with space for 26,000 cars. For more information contact the Suffolk Agricultural Association on (01473) 707110.

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