What did the Suffolk Show 2019 give us?
- Credit: Archant
The 2019 Suffolk Show is over – but what makes this year’s event stand out? What will visitors remember about the event in years to come?
First and foremost, the Suffolk Show has never set out to be a revolutionary event. It isn't something that brings in massive changes every year (or every decade for that matter). It's an event that evolves with subtlety - almost imperceptibly to many visitors. But that is an absolutely vital part of its charm.
This year there were a couple of major innovations that worked really well - the Farming Live Area where visitors had the chance to meet farmers and their employees to find out what working in agriculture is like in the 21st century.
Then then was the viewing tower giving a chance to see right over Trinity Park and beyond - to Felixstowe port in the east and Cumberland Towers in Ipswich to the west.
But for many people it is the continuity of the show that is so important. It is the chance to meet people you may only see on show days, to catch up with news and gossip, to have a laugh over old times.
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You can look for the bright, new shiny elements of the show and say: "Weren't they great" and I loved the viewing tower.
But it is in the continuity of the show that its true heart beats.
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It was the old schoolmate who came up to me to ask how I was because when I'd seen him at the show last year I told him I was about to go into hospital.
It was the old colleague that I hadn't seen for 15 years who said hello as I sat having a coffee with Ipswich MP Sandy Martin.
And it was the stories I heard (but couldn't publish yet) from contacts I met on my strolls around the showground.
Essentially the Suffolk Show is a chance for everyone in Suffolk to come together - whether they're stewards in suits and bowler hats, in smart dresses and fascinators . . . or families out for the day in their jeans and tee-shirts.
It's the one job of the year where I leave my smart shoes in the wardrobe and wear my old walking trainers because I'm going to cover so many miles on foot I want to be as comfortable as possible!
My first Suffolk Show for the EADT was in 1983, writing up the animal classes' results. I've visited the show since I was a child in the 1960s. I must have covered, in some way, most shows over the last 36 years. Will I remember 2019 for anything in particular? Possibly the tower.
For me, the show is a one-day wonder now. I was there on Wednesday. I loved every minute of it, but was glad to get home and put my feet up! But if my editor and newsdesk are happy with the idea, I'm sure I'll be back at Trinity Park again next year.
It seems I'm not the only to feel like this. Show director Bee Kemball said: "What a fantastic two days it has been.
"The people are what make this show so great every single year, and that means everyone, from the volunteers, to the staff, to the people who come through the gates beaming with smiles.
"It is important people understand the importance of agriculture, how it helps our lives - you should always know where your food comes from, and by doing so it helps keep things to the highest possible standard."
Coming to the end of her three-year tenure, Bee will hand over the baton to deputy director Bruce Kerr - but as she said, that doesn't mean it will stop her from returning.
"Just because I'm standing aside doesn't mean I won't be returning to the show I love," she said. "Next year I suspect I'll be coming along in my flip flops and sunglasses with an ice cream in hand.
"I've been involved with the show since I was 18 years old, more than 30 years ago. I still love it just as much.
"My father and grandfather were both stewards - the beautiful thing about the show is that it is a generational thing - for both staff and visitors, the joy of the show is passed on."