Wednesday, July 31 mark the 127th anniversary of the Nantwich Show and its third year at Reaseheath College. The Nantwich Agricultural Society was formed in 1897 following the success of the first event, which was then hosted by the Cheshire Agricultural Society, which held four shows around Cheshire.

The Nantwich Dairy Show continued to be staged each year, with the earliest records of competitions from October 1908 when it was held in the Nantwich Market Hall: 258 entries of cheese and 34 entries of butter were recorded with the prize winners including J. Dutton of Swanley Hall, W.H. Hobson from Blakenhall, J. Bennion of Gorsecroft Farm, Audlem and T. Peacock from Huxley Hall, Chester.

In 1943, during the war years, a show was promoted to raise funds for the Red Cross. Mr Frank Hughes was appointed secretary at a salary of £50 p/a, with the chairman being Mr Millard and the president, G.R. Rigby. The show produced a profit of a thousand pounds.

Great British Life: Nantwich Show manager Liz Parkin. Nantwich Show manager Liz Parkin. (Image: Nantwich Show)

In 1945, the now Nantwich Agricultural Show and Gymkhana was held on the grounds of what was St Joseph's School in London Road (today Regents Park and Elim Church), with the profits donated to the Nantwich Cottage Hospital. The event was an outstanding success and it was decided it should become annual. A meeting was called on October 11, 1945, to select officers and to draw up bye-laws and regulations. The date for the next show was set for Wednesday, July 31, 1946, the last Wednesday in July – a tradition still standing.

Volunteers have always been a mainstay of the show, with many of the current team being involved for more than 30 years. In 2016, the society was recognised by Queen Elizabeth, when she presented the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

From 1946 until 2019 the show was held at Dorfold Hall Park. The only cancellations in those years were in 1952 1968 and 2001 due to Foot and Mouth Disease, and in 2012 and 2019 because of bad weather, although in both these years the International Cheese and Dairy Awards (ICDA) went ahead.

Great British Life: Nantwich Show memorabilia across the decades. Nantwich Show memorabilia across the decades. (Image: Natwich Show)

Then came the Covid years. In 2020, before the nationwide lockdown, the Nantwich Agricultural Society had already paid out large deposits on infrastructure and marketing for an event, including the International Cheese Awards, which were now turning over £750,000. With no means to claim insurance this time, the charity lost more than £250,000 over night.

If Nantwich Agricultural Society was going to survive, the Cheese Awards and Nantwich Show had to part company and 2019 was the last year the ICDA would be held at the Nantwich Show. It was too large and costly to continue to be hosted in temporary structures, so the awards moved to a new home at Bingley Hall at the Staffordshire Showground, where they will be held this year from June 27 to 29.

Following a three-year break, depleted reserves and the uncertainty around Covid at the time, the chairman, Michael-John Parkin and the directors made the brave decision to relaunch the show in 2022. I took on the role of the event organiser and with a new operations team and with more than 2,000 volunteer hours clocked up, the Nantwich Show made its very welcome return within six months of us agreeing the go-ahead.

The new showground, at Reaseheath Old Hall part of Reaseheath College, was met with huge positivity with traders and visitors commenting: 'It is back to where it should have always been', 'the new site and layout is perfect' and 'it feels like a proper country show again'. Chairman Michael-John said: 'I feel I have brought the show home as the last farmer to farm at Reaseheath Old Hall was my grandfather Bill Parkin, himself a volunteer for many years.'

Great British Life: Cheshire Life has long been a supporter of the show.Cheshire Life has long been a supporter of the show. (Image: Cheshire Life)

The support in the first year was incredible: everyone volunteered their time, sponsors were generous, suppliers gave favourable prices in lieu of sponsorship and most importantly, the sun shone. Visitors filled the site and the charity went from a decade of losses to turning a healthy profit.

As the show enters its third year at Reaseheath College, I (as show manager) share a full-time role with show secretary, Mel Wood and the new systems and processes are bedding in well.

The show now has two strong patrons in HJ Lea Oakes and Reaseheath College and a raft of key sponsors including The Great British Cheese Company, Mornflake, Whitegates Estate Agents, SugaRich, Sandstone Vets, Livestock Supplies, AW Burrows Funeral Directors, RF Fielding and new for 2024, Cheshire Life magazine, which is sponsoring the Members' Garden.

The 2024 event is taking shape with more than 200 traders already booked and new attractions including an Artisan Food Market, the Clwyd Axe Men, British Scurry & Trials Driving, Fly Ball and a Clay Laser Shoot.

Competition entries open on May 1 and include Cattle, Sheep, Shire Horses, Home Produce, Arts & Crafts, Pigeons, Eggs, Floristry and the Fun Dog Show. The theme this year is The Olympics with some new classes being added including Aberdeen Angus and Heavy Horse sections. Competition entries can now be made online via the website.

Volunteers old and new are being welcomed back and new enquiries can be made via the website. General Admission tickets are also available now at