PHOTOS: Fun in the sun as thousands enjoy South of England show
From Shires to Shetlands; Shorthorn to Charollais - animals were the centrepiece of this year's South of England Show.
Hundreds of beef and dairy cattle, sheep, pigs and goats which took part in the livestock parade demonstrated the fine quality of livestock which has always been exported to create and improve bloodlines the world over.
The sun shone as thousands joined the region’s biggest celebration of British countryside and farming with superb displays covering every aspect of country life.
The South of England Agricultural Society celebrated their patron, the Queen’s official 90th birthday weekend with spectacular arena action and a surprise rock choir flash mob rendition of Happy Birthday.
Iain Nicol, CEO of the Society, said: “We’ve had a brilliant three days and people loved our new attractions this year, including the ‘Ardingly Eye’, a 32-metre high giant wheel, where visitors were able to get a unique bird’s eye view of the entire 150-acre showground, which was alive with hundreds of competitions and entertainment for all ages.”
The society’s ‘Year of Sheep’ theme was celebrated with sheep shearing displays, herding demonstrations, a fleece competition, lamb cookery; weaving, spinning and the many products that sheep’s wool is now used for; as well as sheep milk and cheese tasting.
The Show was a shopper’s paradise too, with a host of new, pop-up versions of stylish High Street retailers such as Seasalt and Joules. But this ultra- fashionable merchandise was interspersed with favourites like quality tweed jackets, wax coats and equestrian gear - the kind you can only find at country shows. This year many niche retail outlets were laid out in informal tented ‘mews,’ with a distinctive Brighton Lanes feel.
The Royal Signals White Helmet motorcycle display team wowed thousands each day with death defying stunts such as leaping through a ring of fire; discipline interwoven with breathtaking verve.
A more traditional main arena event was the Shetland Pony Grand National where micro-sized, ultra fast ponies cleared mini National brush fences guided by enthusiastic jockeys in coloured silks.
Foxhounds and beagles had their days in the sun and the crowds cheered as they paraded the arena. Most local hunts; Crawley and Horsham, East Sussex and Romney Marsh, Leconfield and Cowdray and Southdown and Eridge won rosettes in the hound ring with huntsmen receiving rosettes from Mid Sussex MP and Hound Show President, Sir Nicholas Soames MP.
Talented up-and-coming performers from across the counties performed on the exciting new Music Stage - a wow for younger visitors.
More than 1,500 horses took part in the equestrian showcase with world class show jumping, heavy horse turnouts, a magnificent display of carriages in the Heavy Horse Village, inter hunt relay and dozens of other classes, including official heats for the Horse of the Year Show. The audience warmed to the stylish presentation of so many equines; particularly in the driving, hunter and sidesaddle classes.
A topical note was sounded when, less than two weeks before the EU Referendum, The Show provided a neutral venue for farmers and people connected with land based industries to discuss the issues at debates held by the NFU and CLA, with top speakers including Owen Patterson, MP, Sir Peter Kendall and Nick Herbert MP.
Whether people’s tastes ran to fly-fishing or selecting their Range Rover; sampling Harveys’ beers or buying a French quilted bedspread, this year’s show delivered it all - with style.
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