Town and country crowds flock to South of England Show

Town and country came together with crowds of nearly 70,000 at this year’s South of England Show at Ardingly, celebrating the best of the region’s country life.

President of the Agricultural Society, Penelope Keith CBE DL, opened the show with the new World of Poultry exhibit, created by the Arun Valley Poultry Fanciers from Worthing, who also won Best Trade Exhibit for their display of poultry from across the world.

Show organisers were delighted to host the micro-sized Shetland Grand National on Saturday [June 6], with young competitors racing for charity and crowds enjoying a wealth of spectacular displays in the four arenas including showjumping, Young Farmers Club tug of war, duck herding, Bolddog Lings motorcycle stunts and much more.

Every day, visitors were be able to see over 760 examples of beef and dairy cattle, sheep, pigs and goats on display and champions and owners alike had their moment of glory in the livestock parade which took place daily in the Ardingly ring. Nicholas Soames MP also opened public voting for the Sussex Food & Drink Awards 2013/14, seeking the county’s best food and drink businesses from plough to plate.

There was a pitch invasion of children running with the gentle giant foxhound packs in the Ardingly Ring on Saturday and the 150-acre showground was alive with hundreds of competitions, from best cattle, sheep, pig and goat breeds, to countryside skills, including  the Young Craftsman of the Year and the farriers’ horse shoeing competitions.

Said Penelope Keith, President of the South of England Agricultural Society, “The show has been a huge success this year and we are thrilled with the support of people – from both town and country – for our region’s farmers and others in the rural industries.

“We all want to eat quality British food and enjoy our beautiful countryside so we need to support our agricultural community.  During the three days we have also enjoyed celebrating the great traditions of the country, some superb displays and performances, lots of fun and games and great shopping.”

Despite sunny weather forecasts, a freak thunderstorm and torrential rain hit the showground for two hours on Friday morning, though this did not deter the hardy showjumpers.  For the rest of the weekend the sun shone on the showground, helping attract thousands of people from across the South East as well as many international visitors.

Over 1,500 horses and ponies took part in the equestrian showcase that forms an enormous part of the three-day extravaganza. From the impressive heavy horse turnouts to the fast paced inter-hunt relay, spectacular show jumping to beautiful hackneys  – there was something there for everyone.

Education is echoed throughout the showground and is at the heart of the South of England Agricultural Society’s charity work, with the Knowledge Box for children, helping them learning about different animals and where their food comes from. Pupils from Bolnore Village Primary School, a Forest School, gave inspiring demonstrations of woodland conservation in the Round House in the Wildlife, Farming and Forestry.

Find out more at and vote in the Sussex Food & Drink Awards at

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