Over 16,000 visitors enjoyed having a go at country sports and entertainments at the 2014 Autumn Show & Game Fair held at the South of England Showground, Ardingly, on October 4 & 5.
People of all ages were able to try out traditional outdoor sports, including clay pigeon shooting, archery, dog agility, gundog training, ferreting, terrier racing, fly fishing, falconry, kite flying and much more.
Olympian, multiple Commonwealth gold medallist and current World Cup winner, Charlotte Kerwood, made her last UK appearance before she finishes off the 2014 world clay shooting competition season at the World Cup final in Azerbaijan.
Charlotte and the Northall Clay Pigeon Club, owned by her parents Dan and Jan Kerwood, organised a ‘have a go’ opportunity for visitors to try out clay pigeon shooting, as well as running more serious competitions, including the High Gun and Ladies High Gun competitions and the Team Shoot Challenge.
Said Michelle Nudds, Chairman of the Autumn Show & Game Fair Committee, “We always try to bring something new to the show – our first ever archery attraction this year has been a huge success and Jonathan Marshall’s stunning falconry display on horseback captivated crowds. It’s great to see the clay pigeon shooting growing in popularity every year and the new Gun Shop that we launched in association with Gun Star this year was busy all weekend.”
The game cookery demonstrations also attracted a good crowd and some were surprised at just how versatile cooking with game is and were keen to learn more about the health benefits of and why we should all be looking to eat more seasonal and local produce.
Bumper crops of entries were taken in the vegetable growing competition this year from giant leeks to perfect onions and the impressive vegetable displays from the National Vegetable Society and the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies (NAFAS) floral displays made a popular pit stop for all green-fingered enthusiasts.
Lord Egremont from the Petworth Estate in West Sussex presented the annual Student Assignment Awards, which are run by the South of England Agricultural Society as part of their work to promote excellence and innovation in the countryside. The winning students from land-based colleges in Sussex and Hampshire were Lauren Coleman from Level 1 at Plumpton College, with her A to Z of Endangered Animals; Lydia King from Hadlow College took first place at Level 2 for her project on Twyren Farm in Wales; Declan Cochram from Chichester College won Level 3 with his project investigating the future for artificial turf in sport; and Collette O’Leary from Plumpton College won Level 4 for her vine spacing trial.
Said Derek Cleaver, Chair of the Society’s Education Committee, “The quality of entrants this year was excellent and we are pleased to work with the top agricultural colleges in the region as part of the society’s educational charity work to support young people innovate and excel in countryside careers.”
Hundreds of breeds of working and pet dogs came to the dog-friendly show, enjoying the country air and a wide range of dog shows and displays with their owners, including the BASC Gundog Scurry, the Terrier and Lurcher Show, the Kent & Surrey Bloodhounds, the Cavalcade of Hounds and the Warrenby Gundogs.
The 13th annual Donkey Show on Sunday attracted record levels of entries and highlighted the charms of these gentle beasts, whilst farm animals were a huge attraction for young people, with dozens of breeds of rabbits, ducks, chickens and other poultry in the Fur & Feather display in the Abergavenny Building.
The First Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers Corps of Drums provided stirring military music for the crowds. The annual Harvest service on Sunday was well supported in the misty sunshine and provided a welcome moment to reflect on the importance of this time of year in the countryside.
The show attracted a record number of high quality tradestands and displays this year with over 300 packing out the showground, Food Hall and Norfolk Pavilion. One trade exhibitor described it as ‘the best it has ever been, particularly the layout and quality of exhibitors.’
Continued Michelle Nudds, “We had a superb show this year and despite a downpour on Saturday, the sunshine brought out the crowds on Sunday and we are delighted with the weekend, which represented a true celebration of our glorious countryside.”