Since 1967 the South of England Show has been the flagship event of the year for the South of England Agricultural Society and is dedicated to celebrating all aspects of British country life, promoting and supporting farming, country living and the rural community.
With almost 2,000 entries, 2015 will once again see an impressive collection of some of the country’s finest specimens of cattle, pigs, goats, sheep and horses. The famous livestock parade is a daily highlight of the show and offers the farming community an opportunity to present and celebrate all that is great about British livestock and their skill and dedication in animal husbandry.
The show attracts in excess of 70,000 visitors every year and more than 1,000 volunteers play a vital role in helping to run the show with the number of trade stands increasing from 185 in 1967, when the first show took place, to more than 700 this year.
Offering a unique insight into the countryside and a great day out for all the family, here are just a few highlights that can be enjoyed throughout the three days:
WORKING WITH THE NEXT GENERATION
The Society’s chosen theme for 2015 is ‘The Next Generation’ and this will be showcased throughout the three days of the show. Under 16s can enter for FREE (when accompanied by a paying adult) and with further online ticket discounts available the Society hopes to open up accessibility to the show allowing more young people and families to come and enjoy a fantastic day out.
Colleges from across the South East including Plumpton College in East Sussex, Sparsholt College in Hampshire, Chichester College (Brinsbury Campus) in West Sussex, Berkshire College, Hadlow College in Kent and Merrist Wood in Surrey are working with the Society throughout the year and at the South of England Show will demonstrate skills from sheep shearing to cheese making, forestry to poultry keeping as well as horticulture, floristry and a main ring display of vintage to modern machinery.
Creating a footprint of learning and discovery through education is a priority for the South of England Agricultural Society and the important work it does with schools, colleges and businesses from across the region has fuelled its focus on the future of farming.
Secondary schools from the South East region will be exhibiting their visions of farming in the future at the South of England Show and there will also be a primary schools competition called ‘Fabulous Food in the Future’ showing how children think food will be produced in the future.
Zones such as the Skills and Craftsmanship area – featuring the Young Craftsman of the Year Competition, WI and the Farriers Horse Shoeing Competition – will showcase the outstanding work of dozens of young people; and the Countryside Learning zone – incorporating Wildlife, Farming & Forestry and the Knowledge Box – will also be looking at new thinking, new technology and new ways of working with information for young people to find out more about careers and opportunities in food and farming.
UNMISSABLE EVENTS IN THE ARDINGLY RING
LIVESTOCK DISPLAYS – sponsored by NFU Mutual Ardingly – Annie Streeter and Jane Cowans and taking place on Thursday at 14.55, Friday at 15.00 & Saturday at 15.30
The famous livestock parade in the Ardingly Ring is a daily highlight at the show and offers the farming community an opportunity to present and celebrate all that is great about British livestock and their skill and dedication in animal husbandry. Take time out to watch the magnificent Supreme Champions and Best of Breed winners as they take centre stage with their proud owners and stockmen in one of the most famous and important highlights of this premier agricultural show.
MACHINERY DISPLAY – taking place on Thursday at 13.15, Friday at 13.00 and Saturday at 13.30
Visitors will be able to watch this wonderful display of vintage to robotics equipment in motion during the daily arena display where vintage and modern will combine to show the progress that mechanical farming has achieved over the years.
THE BOLDDOG LINGS MOTORCYCLE – taking place on Thursday at 12.30 & 16.50, Friday at 11.30 & 14.00 and Saturday at 13.00 & 17.30
This internationally acclaimed team have the largest and most sophisticated truck and landing ramp in the world – it’s been tested by the best freestyle professionals, boasts the best of British riding and was featured in the final of Britain’s Got Talent in 2014. The ramp allows the riders to jump gaps of more than 25 metres and reach heights of 11 metres in the air, giving the riders sufficient “air-time” to perform an array of death defying tricks. Usually only seen on television so a real treat for South of England Show visitors.
HEAVY HORSE TURNOUTS – taking place on Thursday at 14.25, Friday at 14.30 & Saturday at 16.00
This event is always a spectacle to enjoy. Hours of work go into the grooming and preparation of these gentle, magnificent giants of the equestrian world so that they can have their moment to shine in the Ardingly Ring.
PARADE OF HOUNDS – taking place on Thursday at 15.25, Friday at 13.30 & Saturday at 10.30
Hounds, huntsmen and horses…it’s the perfect picture forever associated with the countryside of England. Each day, visitors will be able to enjoy the parade in both the Ardingly Ring and the Countryside Arena; there will be opportunities for children and adults to enter the ring and mingle with the hounds and huntsmen.
INTER HUNT RELAY TEAM – sponsored by Creaseys Group Limited and taking place on Thursday at 15.55, Friday at 16.40 & Saturday at 14.45
A fiercely fought contest where two opposing teams race on horseback against the clock over a mirror image set of fences. This event demonstrates excellent horsemanship and determination, making it exciting for both rider and audience – the skills and speeds achieved are quite amazing and a hit even for those visitors who know little about horses.
Other main ring attractions include:
- Cattle presentations of the Super Dairy Cow and Super Dairy Beef Bull (Friday 12 June)
- Hack Championship
- World Class Showjumping
- Hackney Horse Driving Class
- Heavy Horse Turnouts
- Concours d’elegance & Private Driving Championships
- Scurry Driving
AND DON’T FORGET TO LOOK OUT FOR TITAN THE ROBOT – at eight feet tall, Titan the Robot is hard to miss as it makes its way through the crowds at the show. This comical humanoid robot with its adrenaline-pumping action causes humour and amazement in equal measure – a hit with all the family, but watch out you don’t get wet!
GETTING INTO THE ZONES:
COUNTRYSIDE LEARNING (inc Wildlife, Farming and Forestry)
Plumpton and Brinsbury Colleges will be bringing the farmyard, duck pond, hen house and much more to the Wildlife, Farming and Forestry area. The sow and piglets will be a favourite with the crowds as well as the sheep shearing. Hadlow College will bring farm machinery and visitors can ‘have a go’ at driving a mini digger and there will be many opportunities to find out about careers in the countryside by talking to the students who bring the displays and demonstrations to the show.
The Knowledge Box
The Primary Schools competition is ‘Fabulous Food in the Future’ that will feature models to show how children think food will be produced in the future. Senior schools from across the region will be displaying their thoughts on Farming in the Future. There will also be a children’s corner with colouring and drawing, Buttercup the friendly cow and a display of all the projects we do as an Education committee. Last but not least, come and sit and listen to ‘The Story Teller’.
Visit the Cinder Hill Fly Fishing marquee next to the lake and discover the delights of fly fishing by learning how to cast a flyline from our team of qualified instructors, or improve your existing skills. Fly fishing can be fun for the whole family so come along and have a go. Discover what Game Anglers are doing to care for the environment of the UK’s rivers and lakes to ensure a healthy habitat for aquatic life for future generations.
Wildlife, Farming & Forestry
Don’t miss out on watching these splendid birds of prey flying in this lovely part of the showground. Then look out for the signs pointing to the bats which are kept in a quiet, dark place. Make your way to the Forestry area to see how a tree trunk becomes planks of wood then can be fashioned into garden furniture, gates and many other items. Plenty of benches in this green oasis make it the ideal location for a picnic and there are many other attractions for every age group.
Organised by the South of England Agricultural Society in conjunction with the Sussex branch of the National Association of Farriers, Blacksmiths and Agricultural Engineers, this prestigious and keenly fought competition takes place across all three days of the show. The Shoeing and Shoemaking competition starts at 9am on the first day and finishes with the winner takes all ‘Eagle Eye’ competition where farriers have to make a shoe in 15 minutes. There is a small grandstand where you can view all the action and see some great skills and brawn in action.
Young Craftsman Competition
A ‘must see’ exhibit in the Skills & Craftmanship area showcasing the outstanding skill and creativity of young craftsmen (aged between 14 and 21) from across the region. With many previous winners and finalist going on to become successful entrepreneurs and business owners, this is a great place to spot new talent and applaud the winners of over £4,500 in prize money at the presentation which takes place on Saturday 13th June at 1100.
Exhibits include; ceramics, forged metal, metal jewellery, textiles, wood and design & technology.
Be inspired by WI members from the East and West Sussex Federations who have competed in a variety of classes from craft, drawing, flower arranging to cookery, celebrating 100 years of the WI. Two craft demonstrations each day. Refreshments are available. Take a seat while you enjoy a cup of tea or coffee with a WI home-made scone or piece of cake.
Cattle are one of the centrepiece attractions of the South of England Show. The daily Cattle Parade is not to be missed, showcasing up to 20 breeds around the main Ardingly ring. Judging the cattle are the best judges from around the UK, so come and watch every morning or walk through the Abergavenny Building in the afternoons for a close up of the finest Beef and Dairy cattle in the South of England. Everyone is welcome.
Come and see over 20 different breeds of sheep including local Sussex breed, the ‘Southdown’. Breed classes run all day Thursday with the supreme sheep champion awarded on Friday. Saturday sees young handlers aged five to 18 take to the ring to exhibit their showing skills. Sheep agility will take to the ring on Friday and Saturday where fun and laughter is had by all. You will also find plenty of people to answer your questions so you can find out more about the wide range of breeds on show.
From tiny piglets to enormous sows, the pig village offers excitement and interest. Come and meet the piglets, sample pork dishes from the Ladies in Pigs and watch exhibitors guide the pigs around the ring. For fast paced fun, don’t miss the popular pig agility competition ‘Piggy Pranks’. There is something to entertain the crowds every day in the pig area with main competitions taking place on Thursday. The Pig of the Year qualifying competition and championships take place on Friday with young handler competitions on Saturday – and there will always be a willing pig person to answer any questions.
The poultry tent, organised by Arun Valley Poultry Fanciers Society, offers the opportunity not only to see a wonderful variety of different breeds of fowl but also for any would be poultry keeper to get help and advice on all aspects of keeping chickens. Starting on Thursday there is a sale of poultry from local breeders which runs over all three days. Saturday sees the competitive show with exhibitors entering their birds and eggs for judging. On each day there will also be the chance to touch and interact with chickens.
The Rabbit Show takes place across all three days of the show with a different set of judges each day. Rabbits from all the sections Fancy will be on display where you can see the smallest Netherland dwarf breed to the Rex breed, which come in standard and mini sizes with coats like velvet.
The Fur section includes the largest breed, ‘the continental giant’ and the lop breed all with the ears that go down. An information table is available where experienced breeders will answer your questions on all matters rabbit and guinea pig. Toe nail cutting demonstrations are given throughout the day with information on show, house or outside, as well as housing and runs, litter tray training and much more.
Come along to the Goat tent and see some of the best goats in the country, from pygmies for pets to high yielding dairy goats. A few of the exhibitors export great British goats all over the world, flying the flag for the UK. There will be the opportunity to find out lots more about about these useful and beautiful animals and many will be paraded in the main Ardingly Ring on Thursday and Friday.
The Hound Show
The South of England Hound Show is the first in the calendar of five Hound Shows held throughout the country under the direction of the Master of Foxhounds Association. The Show is located near Blue Gate behind the Main office. It has an arena, grandstand, fully licensed bar and catering facilities. Thursday is Foxhound Day and Friday is Beagle Day and packs come from all over Southern England. Come and meet the Hunt staff, watch hounds being judged and visit the kennels. Everybody is very welcome to watch from the stand, talk to staff and learn about the importance of hound breeding and judging. The Hound Show Committee is also responsible for the Hound parades that take place in the main area daily with the Foxhound Cavalcade on Saturday.
Country Sports Village
With around 100,000 members, the Countryside Alliance promotes and protects country sports and rural life at Parliament, in the media and on the ground.
It is best known for its work on wildlife and management, but its agenda is far broader than that incorporating food & farming, local businesses and services and the injustices of poor mobile phone signal and broadband in the countryside. It is anything but a single issue organisation and represents the interests of country people from all backgrounds and geographical locations.
Visit the Countryside Alliance stand next to the Hound Show Ring to find out how you can join, to catch up on the latest campaigns and to browse the shop. Experienced members of the team will be on hand to answer any questions and all are welcome.
GARDEN PLANTS & FLOWERS (inc BEES & HONEY)
The Garden, Plants and Flower Marquee will be the place to talk to specialist growers and garden designers who will be able to answer all your questions. A ‘Help’ table will also be manned for more technical advice. Many regular exhibitors will be returning this year as well as some new comers. The Windows of Horticulture exhibit will give a taste of the Next Generation grower and exhibitor. NAFAS will again display its Floral Art competition inspiring visitors to get creative with flowers at home.
Bees & Honey
There will be a variety of stalls in the Bees & Honey tent selling a wide range of locally produced honey and wax products, crafts and beekeeping equipment. Visitors can sample fresh local honey and see honeybees in glass screened observation hives. There will also be live demonstrations of opening up hives (in a secure area) for you to see how bees are kept in hives and lots of information for those who wish to learn more about beekeeping with details of local associations that can provide support and training.
NFU FOOD & FARMYARD
Expect food tastings, activities and animals at the barn beside the Blue Gate. High tech farm machinery is on display, along with crops grown on Sussex farms. Moveable Feasts will demonstrate how to cook several meals from a chicken, use leftovers and declare war on waste! Join master baker Anthony Kindred kneading dough and mill wheat into flour. The farmyard features poultry, Sussex beef cattle; dairy cows, pigs and Southdown sheep. Learn about technology used in the livestock industry too.
THE MARKET PLACE
Come and see an exciting new addition to the South of England Show. ‘The Market Place’ is a new shopping, eating and entertainment experience in the heart of the Showground. You’ll find it just off Ardingly Parade, near the Main Ring. Over 40 stands selling everything from books, jewellery and clothing to sausages, sculptures, interiors and even the chance to create your own ice cream plus great food, drink and entertainment including; 20’s Gatsby band, Casablanca Steps, face-painting, street artists, Mish-Mash Morris Men and a few surprises.
There’s plenty of seating to rest weary legs for a while and once you’ve exhausted the Market Place, drop next door to sit and watch ‘The Sheep Show’ or enjoy the Fairground.
The machinery section will show many different types of modern and vintage agricultural equipment, including hand operated farming aids from seed fiddle to the most basic hydraulic pitch fork or scythe. Modern machinery includes the latest offerings from all of the popular manufacturers, including JCB with a new Fastrac on display and dealers will have the latest marques to look at along with some tempting Show offers.
ENGLISH FOOD & WINE
The passion for local food and produce continues to grow in popularity and the increase in the demand for local provenance grows ever stronger throughout the region. Each year the South of England Show focuses on ‘British being the best’ and when it comes to food the English Food and Wine Pavilion is the perfect place to sample first class local food and drink. New exhibitors this year include Kent & Sussex Wine Tours and Blackdown Ridge Vineyard and there will also be cider, juices, rapeseed oil and mushrooms.
A fantastic opportunity to see every aspect of equestrian sport, from International showjumping with classes designed by the 2012 Olympic course builder Bob Ellis, to the nail biting Shetland Pony Grand National races. There will be majestic Heavy Horses, sponsored by Harveys Brewery, the very best in horse driving with the fast and furious Scurrys to the sublime and traditional private single and pairs classes. Showing competitors from all over the country take part in competitions from the elegant side saddle to tiny tots on lead reins. Large and small, young and old, everyone with an interest in horses will be there. It all starts off with the young stock classes on Thursday, with the top animals competing for the prestigious Cuddy qualifier, which culminates at Horse of The Year Show in October.
Under 16s go FREE (when accompanied by a paying adult)
Senior citizens and students over 16 £18.
FREE car parking and a regular bus shuttle service from Haywards Heath train station to the showground.
Gates Open 9.00am – 6.30pm
For advance ticket discounts and more information visit www.seas.org.uk