Scorching September Sunshine Draws Record Numbers to Showground
The Newbury & District Agricultural Society were delighted to welcome record visitor numbers to this year’s county show. Blistering sunshine on Saturday combined with a wetter outlook for Sunday resulted in a surge of attendees arriving to enjoy the festival of fun, food and farming. The Show, in its 110th year succeeded in generating more interest by offering a new layout, more trade stands and a welcome boost from several new sponsors.
Enjoying what could be the last of this summer’s sunshine, visitors reported back positively on the way the new layout brought livestock back inside the showground. This also resulted in the Food Tent being closer to the car parks so tired legs had less distance to travel. The result of the record attendance meant the local area experienced significant morning traffic issues as visitors tried to reach the showground for which we can only apologise.
We were over 20% up on visitor numbers compared to Saturday in 2018, and around 2,500 more cars entering the car parks. On average, we had around 850 people come through the gates every 10 minutes, that’s 1.3 people every second! And many of these visitors bought tickets on the gate and not in advance.
The 2-day, action packed countryside adventure, sponsored by Clarence Court Eggs saw a spectacular motorbike stunt show, polo match and farm machinery pageant headline in the Main Arena, as well as a full schedule of equine classes and competitions including the very amusing Wocket Woy and the Pwoducer who commentated on the Retraining of Racehorses classes. Visitors also enjoyed the fabulous Grand Parade of Livestock and the traditional Sunday Harvest Festival Service.
This year, children joined us for just £1, which certainly boosted ticket sales and we saw hundreds of families enjoying all the fun activities and many have-a-gos across the Showground. And we welcomed dogs back after a successful debut in 2018. The Dog Zone proved popular again, with lots of dogs taking part in fun agility courses by Colin’s Dog Agility Club, demonstrations by the Berkshire Search and Rescue Team and entertaining competitions for visitors to take part in.
Elsewhere, we showcased a brand new Bee & Honey Tent, sponsored by Rowse Honey, who also presented their amazing walk-in ‘Wonderhive’. Visitors enjoyed candle making, badge making, honey tastings and competitions took place for the public to take part in. The Taste of Japan Tent brought a glimpse of Japanese traditions with bonsai trees, sushi tastings, beautiful accessories as well as an Akita dog. This linked in nicely with our big screens, which were showing the Rugby World Cup games both days.
The new Artisan Gin Marquee saw a number of entries in our very first gin competition, with the overall winner coming from Hidden Curiosities, which is produced in the Surrey Hills.
Our exciting new Aspioneering Tent attracted our younger visitors with games and activities all geared around STEM; Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths. Local businesses AWE, Newbury College, Space Store and ROC Technologies all provided some really interesting and engaging experiments and demonstrations including virtual reality, IPad-controlled games and dressing up in space suits.
The Flower & Wedding Marquee had a complete overhaul, incorporating wedding supplies and a catwalk showcasing some of the most stunning attire in the industry. Elsewhere in the marquee, there were many flower competitions taking place, with stunning displays to the theme of Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, Halloween and many more. Plus, some of the biggest vegetables on display vying for best in their class. The People’s Choice award went to local, Alisha Anchors from Didcot with 1,069 votes.
The Food Hall saw a new location in the Food & Farming Zone and was well received by visitors and exhibitors. Our neighbours, Prior’s Court School won Best Local Exhibit with their Bread & Beyond artisan bakery business. A not-for-profit business based at Priors Court, selling their goods whilst also enhancing work skills and work place opportunities for young people.
The Craft Marquee was full to the brim with beautiful and stunning artwork, jewellery, clothes, furniture, wood craft and much more! A local furniture maker, Mark Tamcken, won Best Exhibitor for his stunning craftsmanship.
We saw the UK’s best livestock on show in our newly located livestock tents, conveniently based next to the Cattle Building and saw a number of local winners. Wendy Webber from Reading won the Berkshire Pigs class, Betty Judge from Faringdon won in the pygmy goats section, Jane Freeman from Reading won a number of classes in the chickens tent, and Sarah Sladen from Kingsclere was champion in the Sheep Tent with her Black Welsh Mountain. We also saw local winners in the Cattle Building. The Local Beef Champion went to Andrew & Paula Phillips from Ashampstead with their Heifer, Drift Nancy. And The Local Dairy Champion went to Catherine Elmes from Swindon with her Holstein cow, Crystal Explode Jazz.
On Sunday during the Grand Parade of Livestock, our brand new Champion of Champions competition took place, with a lovely young duck called ‘Red’ from Staffordshire taking top spot!
We saw local winners from Equine, with Clifford Percy from Newbury winning in the Miniature Shetlands section, and Nicky Johnson, also from Newbury winning the Ridden Championship on Sunday.
This year we introduced a number of new classes to encourage local novice riders to take part in including 2020 Equifest qualifiers, which is now classed as one of the largest competing events in the Equestrian calendar.
Our On Farm Competitions took place over the Summer, and an award ceremony took place at the Show weekend. Amners Farm in Reading won Best Farmed Farm Championship.
Patricia Marks, Chief Executive Officer commented,“Our 2019 Show was a great success and huge thanks goes to all those who made it happen from our competitors, trade stands, sponsors, contractors, members, volunteers, attractions, staff and supporters. A wonderful team effort.”
Chris Turner, Show Chairman commented, “2019 was a year of two halves with the weather. This aside, we saw a real success moving the livestock into the main Showground and moving other tents to accommodate this has seen positive feedback. The polo match, artisan gin competition, Aspioneering Tent and the Bee & Honey Tent have all been a great success as new additions. I thoroughly enjoyed my year as Show Chairman and extremely proud of the overall success of the Show”
The Vintage Area moved down by the Cattle Building and took full advantage of the larger space, introducing a selection of vintage cars to their collection of steam engines, tractors and equipment.
Families really enjoyed all the new have-a-go activities we introduced including assault courses, zip-wires, play area, bouncy castles, Queen Bee quiz, animal petting, tastings, sit-on combine harvesters and much, much more available on lots of our fabulous trade stands.
SAVE THE DATE!
The dates for 2020 Royal County of Berkshire Show will be Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th September.