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, supported by continuous arena action in the show’s four show rings.
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 South of England Agricultural 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; sheep herding demonstrations each day; a fleece competition; lamb cookery demonstrations; weaving and spinning and the many products that sheep’s wool is now used for; and sheep milk and cheese tasting.
Bolnore Village Primary School, Southgate Primary School and Uckfield Community Primary School all won prizes in the schools competitions including sheep art on a tile, a sheep poster and growing herbs and vegetables.
15-year-old Toby Smith and 17-year-old Daniel Talbot, from Sackville School in East Grinstead, took first and second place respectively in this year’s Young Craftsman of the Year competition, with 17-year-old Laura Horsfield from Burgess Hill Girls taking home bronze.
New entertainment in the main show ring this year included the Royal Signals White Helmet motorcycle display team performing their death-defying stunts every day of the show. Other highlights were the high-energy, micro-sized Shetland Pony Grand National; hound parades; and the famous livestock display where hundreds of beef and dairy cattle, sheep, pigs and goats showcased the best of British agriculture; as well as an exciting new Music Stage that presented a range of talented, up and coming performers from across the region.
Over 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.
Less than two weeks before the EU Referendum, The South of England Show was also used as 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.
The South of England Agricultural Society’s 2016 Award of Honour was given to Jeff Trunkfield from East Sussex in acknowledgement of his lifetime contribution to farming and the farming community.