Royal Norfolk Show back for 2022 with new attractions
- Credit: Archant
Many events were lost to the pandemic and the absence of the Royal Norfolk Show was one of the most keenly felt... but in June it makes a very welcome return and will once again welcome around 80,000 people to the county showground.
It has been the longest hiatus since the Second World War and show director Mark Nicholas says that the absence of the showpiece event has been keenly felt. “This year is going to be a great revival of the Royal Norfolk Show. I think after three years of being without the people have genuinely missed it.
"I think there are many things that people miss about the show – I think they have missed the social interaction, the noise, the sights, the experiences of the show,” says Mark, managing director of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association.
“Businesses have missed it too. In any typical show there will be 700 businesses talking part,” he says. “Let’s not forget that the Royal Norfolk Show generates £20m to the local economy.”
So, what can show goers expect when the gates open on Wednesday, June 29?
“Reassuringly, they are going to find a very familiar show in all of its majesty and glory – it's going to be the same size and scope,” says Mark. Nonetheless, the RNAA have not been sitting on their hands during the pandemic; Mark promises it will have a fresh look to it.
One substantial change is around the farm machinery, which up to now has been a static display. This year a large agricultural technology display area will be created where millions of pounds’ worth of machinery and vehicles will be moving around and being demonstrated.
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This return to the show’s farming roots – no pun intended – is intentional. Agriculture in Norfolk is still a major employer, is still the greatest use for land and, with the giant tomato facility at Crown Point and Europe’s largest vertical farm under construction at Honingham, leading the way towards greater food security for the UK.
Another new offering at the show is an end-to-end interactive event for the humble spud, from seed potato at one end to chip at the other, via all the growing and processing cycles that it undergoes.
“One of the great problems in our age at the moment is a lack of awareness around food production,” says Mark. “It’s using a really simple way to demonstrate the whole growing process, showing how your food is produced.
“At its heart there is no doubt this is still one of the top agricultural shows, when you look at the amount of space given to machinery, when you think about the showing of livestock – the most popular draw at the show.”
Norfolk not renowned as a livestock producing region but the show still draws top entries and this year is to host the Aberdeen Angus national show, a huge accolade, and the first time the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society has brought the event to East Anglia. There is also a first on the sheep front, with the Kerry Hill national sheep show also featuring for the first time.
Equestrian fans will be able to enjoy the Horse of the Year show qualifiers, plus a new class for retraining of racehorses. There will also be carriage racing and, by popular demand, the Shetland Pony Grand National!
At the heart of the showground is the Grand Ring and Mark is particularly excited about the 2022 iteration. “I think the Grand Ring programme is going to be particularly interesting this year, for a number of reasons.
“As part of the jubilee we’re hosting one of only three county-level programmes, an event called the Royal Salute, on both days,” he says.
It’s a musical tribute to the Queen involving over 1,000 young people in the grand ring, singing as a massed choir, plus a 60-piece orchestra. “It’s going to be a great spectacle, a great coming together to mark that very important moment for the Queen.”
The RAF Falcons will be dropping in, weather permitting, and there will be a military band and Norfolk and Norwich Pipe Band. The Grand Ring will look rather different, as grandstands have been moved to make it more of a focus at the end of the main showground drive, to be renamed the Queen Elizabeth II Drive.
There will be the popular Norfolk food hall, sponsored by brewer Adnams, and fellow brewers Woodforde’s also involved, with an area near the Grand Ring turned into a food sqaure, with a big street food offering. Jarrold is to create a new restaurant, and there will be a new ringside lounge for members of the RNAA.
The sounds of the show have not been neglected either. “We felt very strongly that culture and performing arts should be a key part of the show so this year we have a great partnership going with Norfolk Music Hub to bring lots of musicians and groups to the show,” says Mark.
There will be three performance spaces around the showground and the hub will fill the programmes, eight hours a day, with local musicians, generating something of a festival atmosphere.
During the course of our interview, it is clear that Mark can’t wait to get the party started and is looking forward to people seeing the great revival.
“It’s about acknowledging our agricultural heritage in its broadest sense, but also that great celebration of Norfolk. I mean where else do you get 80,000 people in a field on the edge of Norwich?”
The Royal Norfolk Show is one of only nine in the country designated ‘royal’.
This year it is on Wednesday, June 29 and Thursday, June 30.
It is anticipated that 80,000 will pass through the turnstiles over the two days.
There is car parking for 15,000 vehicles at the showground.
You can buy tickets in advance, which include free car parking, at royalnorfolkshow.co.uk/tickets