Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall led celebrations for the South of England Show’s 50th anniversary this week [8-10 June], by getting hands on with all aspects of food and farming at the South of England Showground in Ardingly, West Sussex.

As President for the South of England Agricultural Society 2017, she toured the spectacular annual showcase of British agriculture and the countryside, which attracted huge crowds in sunny, summer weather.

“We have had a truly wonderful 50th celebration show, which has demonstrated the fantastic skills and spirit of our rural community in the South of England. We want to thank everyone for the incredible effort they put into making this year so special,” said Iain Nicol, Chief Executive, South of England Agricultural Society.

Hundreds of rosettes and trophies were presented across the showground for competitions including showjumping, many cattle, sheep, goat, pig and poultry breeds, wool fleeces, horticultural displays, trade stands, arts and crafts and much more.

Rocco Dettori, 12-year-old son of famous jockey Frankie Dettori, won gold on Saturday in the fast-paced micro-sized Shetland Pony Grand National, whilst overall trade stand winner this year was Wobblegate Apple Juice serving their superb Sussex apple juices and ciders.

Three young Sussex women scooped gold, silver and bronze in this year’s Young Craftsman of the Year competition. The winner was 20-year-old Mahum Bahti from Camelia Botnar Foundation in Cowfold and all were presented with their awards by celebrity comedian Romesh Ranganathan on Saturday 10th June.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall officially unveiled a permanent display showing the Society’s achievements during the last 50 years and she also planted a vine to officially represent the ‘millionth vine’ planted in the UK this year with United Kingdom Vineyards Association (UKVA), the UK wine industry’s central organisation.

The Society showcased its charitable work and continued support for the next generation throughout the three days of the show with hundreds of students from schools and colleges across the region involved in competitions and exhibits.

There was also spectacular new entertainment in the main ring this year with The Devil’s Horsemen, Britain’s top equestrian stunt and trick team, seen in many movies and tv series, including the new Wonder Woman movie, who performed breath-taking displays to music, dressed as Cossacks.

Other highlights included the famous livestock display with hundreds of beef and dairy cattle, sheep, pigs and goats in the main arena and Vice Chairman of the South of England Agricultural Society, Carole Hayward, cut a giant birthday cake as part of the closing ceremony with help from young volunteers Georgia and Bea Gribble, Lottie Hecks and Lowri Best.

Over 1,500 horses and ponies took part in the equestrian showcase that forms an enormous part of the three-day extravaganza, featuring dozens of classes from impressive heavy horse turnouts to the fast paced inter-hunt relay, superb show jumping to beautiful hackneys.

The South of England Show has welcomed over 3.5 million visitors over the last decade and across the three days they can enjoy a unique introduction to agriculture and the British countryside as well as entertainment, music, crafts, shopping galore and one of the most impressive food halls in the South East featuring many delicious local and regional foods.

The next major show held by the South of England Agricultural Society at Ardingly will be the Autumn Show and Game Fair on 30th September and 1st October. Girl band Little Mix is also performing there on 1st September as part of their summer tour.

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