Thousands of visitors enjoyed the Spring Garden & Leisure Show over the bank holiday weekend, launching the 2016 show season at the South of England Showground in Ardingly, West Sussex.
Iain Nicol, CEO, South of England Agricultural Society, “We had a marvellous weekend where the showground was full of fabulous plants and entertainment to really kick off spring. It was a great warm up for the South of England Show on 9, 10 and 11 June, when we will open our gates for three glorious days, celebrating the best of the British countryside and the whole showground will be alive with spectacular agricultural displays, delicious food and drink and superb shopping.”
The Spring Garden & Leisure Show offered green-fingered enthusiasts great plant shopping and lots of gardening tips, with Jean Griffin of BBC Sussex, Surrey and Kent returning as the resident gardening expert for the weekend, chairing the ever-popular Gardening Theatre.
Bank holiday family fun was spread across the weekend with leisure activities for all ages including meeting a Mangalitsa – a woolly pig; kids’ face-painting; the much loved ‘Mini Sheep Show’; a fantastic fairground; and the regional Crufts Qualifying Open Dog Show.
Over 800 dogs from the region’s top breeders took part in the dog show, managed for the first time by Chairman Brian Ballan and Honorary secretary Helen Osborne-Brown, with Newfoundland, Farlo, owned by Elaine Coldwell from Redhill winning Best in Show which will take him on to compete at Crufts 2017.
Visitors also enjoyed testing their skills at the new caravan manoeuvring course run by The Caravan Club, as well as trying out target shooting and FootGolf, the UK’s fastest growing sport, with Tilgate Forest Golf Centre’s 3-Hole FootGolf.
Children enjoyed petting farm animals, having a go at milking Buttercup the cow and countryside art activities in the Countryside Hub at the Discover the Countryside Area as well as following the popular Fluffy Duck Trail.
Other highlights included the famous South East Regional Alpaca Show where dozens of these fascinating camelids from South America competed for the coveted first prize, won by a Huacaya Alpaca from Houghton Hall Alpacas and whose prize was presented by surprise celebrity guest, Natasha Kaplinsky.
2016 President of the South of England Agricultural Society, Charles Moore, also former editor of The Telegraph, visited the Show on Sunday and was pleased to announce his charity of the year, Rwanda Aid, which was founded in East Sussex. A collection will be held to support the charity, which provides support to rural communities in Rwanda, at the South of England Show on June 9, 10 and 11.
Admission to the South of England Show: Under 16s go FREE (when accompanied by a paying adult £20); senior citizens and students over 16 £18. Save 10% when you buy online and up to 20% with early bird ticket discounts at www.seas.org.uk
There is FREE parking and a regular bus shuttle service from Haywards Heath train station to the showground.