Celebrating the best of country life, the Autumn Show & Game Fair at the South of England Showground in Ardingly attracted nearly 16,000 visitors last year and organisers from the South of England Agricultural Society hope to welcome an even larger crowd this year over the weekend of 5th & 6th October.
‘Come and have a go’ is the main emphasis for this year’s show focusing on all that’s wonderful about living in rural Sussex in a fun and inviting way. Traditional country sports will include clay pigeon shooting, fly casting, packs of local hounds on display both days and the popular gundog scurry which will be run by the British Association for Shooting & Conservation (BASC) in association with Plumpton College Game and Wildlife Management and will act as a qualifier for the BASC national competition.
Dan Kerwood and his daughter Charlotte – triple Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist and member of Team GB in both London and Rio in 2016 – will be bringing their clay pigeon shoot to the Autumn Show & Game Fair again this year, where enthusiasts can enter the High Gun and Ladies High Gun competitions and the Team Shoot Challenge, all of which have cash prizes to be won. Beginners and children can also try their hand at this increasingly popular sport and those who aspire to reach national or international level have the perfect opportunity to gain some top tips from Charlotte and Dan.
Transport to and from the clay pigeon shoot area is provided by Vintage Trailer Tours and more fascinating vintage agricultural machinery will be on display at the show – all painstakingly restored from a bygone era of farming by members of the South Eastern Vintage Agricultural Club.
Bob Hogg is a popular face at the showground, however instead of his familiar geese and duck herding, he will entertain visitors to the show this year with his new ‘Lamb National’ race harnessing the natural ability of the Herdwick Sheep to jump over obstacles.
Said Michelle Nudds, Vice Chairman of the Autumn Show & Game Fair Committee, “We always get very excited about the Autumn Show & Game Fair as it offers the ideal environment for all members of the family to come and get involved in all sorts of country pursuits and enjoy a really wonderful day out. We have some of the most experienced professionals on hand at the show to share their knowledge with visitors from fly fishing to falconry, dog agility to clay pigeon shooting.
“There is also plenty of children’s entertainment, including Punch & Judy, a beautiful vintage fairground, the popular Donkey Show (on Sunday) and a multitude of farm animals on show in the Abergavenny building.”
The Society’s poultry theme for 2013 will continue through the show, with a variety of poultry and game on display and for sale, as well as cooking demonstrations showing the best ways to cook game with plenty of delicious, seasonal food stalls.
Continues Michelle Nudds, “The Show aims to provide a true taste of the autumn, combining country sports and pastimes with a celebration of harvest and plenty of locally-produced food and drink highlighting the important role played by the many specialist and local food producers in today’s market place.”
Food will also play an important role in the WI’s competition, which this year takes the theme of Autumn Extravaganza. The WI forms an integral part of this show and includes creative craft displays, which are all scrutinised by the judges to decide who will go home with the coveted first prize.
Bumper crops of entries are expected in the vegetable growing competition this year from giant leeks to perfect onions, with impressive vegetable displays from the National Vegetable Society and the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies (NAFAS) floral displays making a popular pit stop for all green-fingered enthusiasts.
The pumpkin trail offers a gentle journey around the showground – not too far for little feet as well as tired older ones! Along the way there are many displays and demonstrations to take a look at including Terrier Racing, the Lurcher Show organised by James Whiteman, the Mid Downs Dog Agility competition, gundog training activities from Warrenby Gun Dogs, fly fishing from the Salmon & Trout Association and the ancient art of falconry from Huxley’s Birds of Prey in Horsham.
Admission: Adult £10. Children (Under 16) £5. Senior citizens and students £8. Save money with an all inclusive £25 family ticket (2 adults & 2 children) or book in advance online here. Free car parking.