Over 15,000 visitors flocked to the Spring Garden & Leisure Show at the South of England Showground in Ardingly over the bank holiday weekend – a 30% increase in footfall compared to last year.
The South of England Agricultural Society’s theme for this year is ‘Poultry’ and President, Penelope Keith CBE DL, thoroughly enjoyed getting up close and personal with various feathered friends during her first visit to the Spring Show. She delighted crowds as she spoke to various members of the public during her tour of the showground and will be making a welcome return in just over four weeks to officially open the South of England Show on the 6 June at an exciting new ‘World of Poultry’ exhibition.
A fully packed audience listened to vet and poultry expert, Martin Smith, and Agricultural Consultant, Andrew Marshall, who held free talks about Healthy Hens/Happy Hens throughout the two days in the new ‘Poultry Theatre’. This proved to be an extremely popular event with standing room only as many backyard enthusiasts listened with interest and relished the opportunity to ask questions to the experts.
The ‘Gardening Theatre’ was another success this year, as gardening enthusiasts quizzed BBC gardening expert, Jean Griffin, and the rest of the expert gardening panel about everything flora related. Trade stands were also extra busy throughout the weekend as people rushed to get the best deals on offer and make the most of late Spring planting.
Clare Hastings, Chairman of the Spring Show Committee said: “We are delighted with the turnout at the show this year and it was a great success for both traders and visitors who thoroughly enjoyed basking in the sunshine – it really felt like Spring had finally arrived and is a fantastic start to the show season here at Ardingly.
“Hundreds of children enjoyed the cattle, sheep and pig workshops in the ‘Access the Countryside’ area and took part in the fluffy duck trail. The famous Mini ‘Sheep Show’ team with live sheep shearing on stage proved as popular as ever drawing in huge crowds from across the showground.”
Over 700 dogs from across the region competed in the ever popular Open Dog Show which forms an integral part of the Spring Garden & Leisure Show and many came to see who would be crowned Best in Show. This year the title went to the impressive Newfoundland, Zentaur Tee Tea Effen from Salfords in Surrey and Best Puppy in Show went to Akita, Darquenny from Kingsnorth in Kent, qualifying both to compete against the world’s best at Crufts.
Celebrations were also heard from the Alpaca marquee when Houghton Perry won the Huacaya Supreme Championship and Houghton Chance won Suri Supreme Championship. Hundreds of these fascinating long-haired camelids from South America competed at the show and once again proved hugely popular with children and adults alike.
The new showground caterers delivered tempting and deliciousfood that was thoroughly enjoyed by the crowds who gathered on the grassy banks and picnic areas across the showground; and the food hall enjoyed a fantastic weekend as visitors stocked up on freshly prepared seafood, pies, pasties, fresh bread, cheeses and fresh strawberries as well as many other tasty treats.
Entertainment was provided by the steel band made up of children from Cleaves School in Weybridge and ex Cleaves players plus the Langton Green Super Band; and many other bands could be heard across the showground as they performed live on the Sussex Rok School stage.
Also back by popular demand and taking centre stage, literally, as they landed and took off in the main ring, was the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance crew who were able to offer a very special insight into how they work and gave visitors the opportunity to look over a fully equipped helicopter.
A welcome sunny success for the South of England Agricultural Society and all the volunteers who helped organise the first show of the season and just the start of what is yet to come. To book advance tickets and for more information on the South of England and all other shows and events taking place at the showground call 01444 892700 or visit www.seas.org.uk.
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