It’s show time! The Suffolk Show
- Credit: Archant
Get ready for the county’s biggest two-day event, the Suffollk Show, May 31 and June 1, a half-term family favourite with something for everyone
Organisers are gearing up for another spectacular Suffolk Show, the county’s biggest two-day visitor experience.
This year’s show on Wednesday May 31 and Thursday June 1 at Trinity Park in Ipswich promises a celebration of everything that makes the county great and showcases the best of Suffolk’s food and drink and agricultural heritage, coupled with being a great day out for families.
The Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA) has some exciting new features in the pipeline for 2017, which will be part of an action-packed programme. Highlights include dog agility, a new horse and country ring, a new sculpture garden and an exciting performance from the Atkinsons Action Horses, the equine stars of BBC’s Poldark.
Show director, Bee Kemball, said: “There are thousands of things to see and do at the Suffolk Show and each year we make sure that there’s something new for visitors to enjoy. We are all looking forward to this year’s show and we are excited to welcome visitors from across Suffolk and further afield for the county’s biggest day out.”
The Flower and Garden experience is being redesigned for 2017 and a new sculpture garden for visitors to enjoy will be located near the Hopkins Art Show. There will also be an impressive collection of vintage tractors, showcasing farming through the years, as well as traditional fairground rides and an unrivalled shopping experience that can’t be found on the high street.
Animal attractions include international show jumping, and the traditional livestock competitions that enable showgoers to see up close some of the county’s best rare breeds, such as Red Poll cattle, Suffolk sheep and Suffolk horses, plus hundreds of other pigs, cattle, horses, rabbits and goats.
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The pop up fashion event of the year
The county’s biggest pop up shopping experience is returning to the Suffolk Show with a host of new and exciting brands as well as the county’s top independent labels and boutique designers showcasing their luxury clothing and accessories along the coveted Fifth Avenue.
The pink-carpeted Fifth Avenue is a popular fashionista hotspot at the show each year, celebrating the best of Suffolk’s ‘not on the high street’ brands. Having a much larger stand at the Show this year and now within Fifth Avenue, is HOAX. The Suffolk-based skateboard and surf clothing brand is a favourite of global superstar Ed Sheeran, who is often seen wearing their t-shirts and hoodies.
Up-and-coming young fashion designer Bella Singleton will also be exhibiting on Fifth Avenue this year. The former Framlingham College pupil produces printed and hand-illustrated scarfs, which have previously been seen at London Fashion Week and are on sale at London’s Tate Modern.
Fifth Avenue head steward Angie Ashby-Hoare, who has a passion for local fashion, shares why Fifth Avenue is so popular: “As the county’s biggest pop-up shopping event, I think it’s great to recognise talented local brands and to celebrate Suffolk’s rising stars of fashion.
“Fifth Avenue offers a unique shopping experience with one-of-a-kind luxury clothes, shoes, jewellery and accessories that visitors might not find anywhere else.”
Other popular independent designers returning to the show include Suffolk based jewellery designer Emily Mortimer, who will be making her second appearance with her beautiful statement pieces using bold and colourful gemstones.
Popular favourite Hicks and Brown will also be returning to the show again this year. The Bury St Edmunds-based country clothing retailer, run by sisters Alice and Rosie, offers timeless collections of jackets, gilets and waistcoats as well as their hugely popular fedora hats and hand-crafted clutch bags, belts, socks and keyrings.
Other exhibitors to keep an eye out for include country clothing brands such as Laurie and Jules, Butler Stewart and Liberty Kelly. Accessory retailers such as The Spanish Boot Company, Mackenzie and George luxury leather goods, and Kit and Kaboodal are also worth a look.
For something a bit different there’s Peter and Porter handmade shoes and P.Santiago Alpaca Designs with their soft alpaca wool shawls and capes.
As well as shopping, the Suffolk Show is also the place to showcase the very best of traditional country fashion. Angie shares her top tips on how to be stylish yet practical for all weathers at the Show: “I have an early start on both show days so I wear a pair of flats – or wellies if the weather is inclement – so I can run about and complete the final checks before opening Fifth Avenue. After breakfast, I change to pair of comfy heels to wear for the rest of the day.
“Even though we have our fingers crossed for warm sunshine, layering your outfit is key so you’re ready for all weathers. This year I’m opting for a dress paired with a long jacket. If it’s a little chilly, I can tuck a cashmere cardigan underneath for extra warmth. As a female steward, I’m also required to wear a hat or fascinator – I usually opt for a fascinator as it’s easier to wear and you can find an amazing variety of styles to suit any outfit.”
Growing excitement for new flower and garden features
The Flower and Garden Show – a popular attraction at the Suffolk Show each year – has undergone a complete revamp for 2017 and will be offering visitors an insight into the world of outdoor living.
This year it will have a new courtyard layout, providing a focus on a fantastic variety of show gardens, horticultural trade stands and expert advice from the county’s top garden designers. Another new feature will be the Calvors Beer Garden, built and designed in partnership with Suffolk brewery Calvors and Flower and Garden Show sponsors Ed Hopkins Landscape and Garden Design. The Beer Garden will be a space to relax and enjoy a craft beer with a spot of live music.
The Flower and Garden Show is also an area for family fun, with children’s storytelling in a magical tent and the return of the popular Schools Show Garden Competition. Now in its third year, it’s seen a record number of entries from primary school pupils who will be designing and building their own show gardens for this year’s Made in Suffolk theme.
Ed Hopkins, deputy steward and sponsor for the Flower and Garden Show, said: “This year looks likely to be the most fun yet for visitors of all ages. We look forward to welcoming visitors and to showcasing the area’s exciting new features.”
The floral marquee also has some interesting new features this year. The Museum of East Anglian Life will be celebrating its 50th anniversary with a special World War Two Dig for Victory display, motivating people today to grow their own fruit and vegetables. Hedgehog Nurseries from Risby, Bury St Edmunds, will also be returning, alongside Jelly Cottage Plants from North Norfolk.
Suffolk landscaper Roger Gladwell and David Johnson from Barcham Trees will also be putting together a large exhibit at the Flower and Garden Show entrance, to inspire visitors as they arrive.
Stephen Miles, Senior Steward for the Flower and Garden Show, said: “We are delighted to have pulled together another brilliant experience for all aspiring gardeners to enjoy. The Flower and Garden Show is one of the most popular attractions at the Suffolk Show so we’re keen to impress visitors with new features each year.”
Chefs on stage
A popular fixture at the Suffolk Show is the Cookery Theatre, sponsored by Adnams and The Suffolk Agricultural Association. It introduces local chefs who will demonstrate some of their favourite recipes, as well as showcasing local producers and foods. This year there will be 16 chefs over the two days. Culinary demos will be hosted by Emma Crowhurst and Robert Mace and they will be introducing Scott Taylor of the Barcelona inspired ICE Lunch Bar, Bury St Edmunds, who will be constructing his Gamekeeper’s Brunch, Mauli of The Turks Head, Hasketon will wow the crowd with his Hay Smoked Duck Salad, James Barber of Aldeburgh’s The White Lion, is making homemade beef burgers and relish, while teen chef Bethany Foster will be turning out three courses including her two-part dessert.
Other chefs include Jonathan Nicholson (The Sail Loft and The Bell at Sax), Justin Kett (The Swan at Lavenham), Michael Bonaccorsi (Lucca’s), Chris Lee (The Bildeston Crown), Julie Foster (forager) and Tom Greening (The Dog and Duck). The Cookery Theatre will also have a host of local makers talking to visitors about the story behind their food and the best ways to use them in the kitchen. Don’t miss The East of England Co-Op’s Producer of the Year, Great Tilkey Honey, who will be sharing tips on how best to use honey in a range of recipes.
Luxury homeware with a local stamp on offer at Suffolk Show
Visitors at this year’s Suffolk Show can take home a unique piece of local craftsmanship from a fantastic range of East Anglia-based interior and homeware designers in the Lifestyle Pavilion.
Sponsored by R.W. Curles and C & N Heating, the Lifestyle Pavilion adds to the fantastic shopping experience at the show. Beautiful home furnishings will be showcased from Barretts of Woodbridge independent department store, and Laudy McB Designs, based in Essex, with their contemporary home furnishings, purses and iPad cases using Scottish and Irish tweeds. Pebble Beach Ltd will also be there with a range of coastal-inspired homewares.
For a complete home-makeover, there are designer kitchens from Churchill Brothers, traditional handmade wall tiles from Bromley and Fitch Tile Merchants, and bespoke wooden furniture from Treeincarnated. The Rug and Carpet Studio from Long Melford has a stunning range of rug and carpet designs, and The Wool Room East Anglia offer a cosy range of wool bedding, cushions and blankets. w
My Suffolk Show:
Sam Fairs, Hillfarm Oils
The Fairs family have farmed in Suffolk since 1967 and in 2004 they became the first farm in the UK to grow, press and bottle their own cold pressed rapeseed oil. Sam is the senior steward for trade stands at the Suffolk Show where he gives his time and energy to educating the next generation of farmers. The show is always a family affair with everyone working behind the stand in the food hall and catching up with fellow farmers and friends.
How long have you been involved in the Suffolk Show?
About 22 years.
How involved are the rest of the family in preparing for the show?
My wife, Clare, spends four days with me measuring all stand pitches for size, and then our son Harry spends as much time as possible with me in the final days, as he is passionate about the machinery. Clare, Harry and my daughter, Lottie, are then fully utilised during the show to help the Hillfarm Oils team sell oil in the food hall.
How long have you showcased Hillfarm Oils at the Show?
This will be our 14th year in the food hall.
How do small, up and coming food producers benefit from coming to the show?
Not only is the Suffolk Show is a great opportunity to showcase in front of 80,000 people over the two-day event, it also has exceptional networking opportunities with associated businesses before, during and after the show. Most people who walk through the gates are already in the frame of mind to have a great day, enjoy the food and drink, and try new things. It’s great to meet your target audience in such an informal and relaxed way.
What advice would you give to any newcomers to the food tent?
Make sure your stand is approachable and stands out from the crowd. Invite people to you and keep talking, as customers want to learn about new things and try new flavours if they can.
What is your favourite Suffolk flavour?
Rapeseed Oil! I did have a revelation only recently as I made a baguette with raw pickled beetroot (not out of a jar) and chopped wild garlic. I also love Adnams Bitter, Suffolk salami, Aspall Harry Sparrow, asparagus, smoked prawns, roast beef. I could never choose one favourite flavour, there are too many!
Tim Pratt, Wantisden Hall Farms
Tim is the senior steward for sheep, goats and pigs at the Suffolk Show. In 2016, he was named Farm Manager of the Year at the Farmers Weekly Awards.
How long have you been involved with the Suffolk Show?
How many sheep do you typically take to the show?
Five or six normally.
How do you decide which sheep to take and what is the process for getting them ‘show ready?’
The sheep are picked out in February and the best ‘true to type’ sheep are chosen. This includes an attractive head, correct eye colouring, good teeth, wide and long bodied – a leg at each corner, upright pasterns – all true to breed. To prepare the sheep, the lambs are sheared in February to ensure a suitable wool length by May. Small amounts of halter training will go on, but nothing too much until a few weeks before the show. A week before the show the sheep are washed thoroughly and hopefully kept clean. At this point they will be trimmed to make them look tidy and this will be done a couple of times in the lead up to the day itself.
What makes a good show sheep?
In addition to being a ‘true to type’ sheep, it must have a good temperament, so that I’m not being dragged around the ring!
Why do you think it is important for farmers to show their livestock at a county show?
Not only is it a great way for farmers to promote their animals and the different breeds, it is also great fun, meeting up with a lot of good friends, socialising with other farmers, suppliers and meeting visitors who are interested in finding out more about farming and livestock.
How involved are the rest of the family in preparing for the Suffolk Show?
All of the family are involved on the show day. Due to me being a steward I have little time on the actual day, so I leave that to my wife, Charlotte, and my children, Oliver and Bella, both of whom competed in the young handlers last year. The children love getting their white coats and ties on. Unfortunately I think as they get older their mother may have them riding ponies rather than showing the sheep.
Do you feel pressure this year after being recognised as the Farmers Weekly, Farm Manager of the Year?
No not really. It was a great achievement and I’m extremely pleased with winning the award, but no more pressure than usual.
Tickets for this year’s Suffolk Show (May 31 and June 1) are now on sale – save £5 per ticket by purchasing in advance. Advanced tickets cost £22 while children aged under 15 will once again receive free entry. For more information and to book tickets visit www.suffolkshow.co.uk or call the ticket hotline on 01473 707117.
For information about when the show’s open, how to get to Trinity Park, parking, transport and more got to www.suffolkshow.co.uk