The biggest agricultural event in the region - The South of England Show - begins today at its traditional home in Ardingly, near Haywards Heath.
Since 1967 the South of England Show has been the flagship event of the year for the South of England Agricultural Society.
Throughout the three days the 150-acre showground comes alive with hundreds of competitions, from best cattle, sheep, pig and goat breeds, to countryside skills, including the Young Craftsman of the Year and the farriers’ horse shoeing competitions. The three day event is held at the South of England Showground in Ardingly and finishes on Sunday.
Said Carole Hayward, Vice Chairman of the Society “The show attracts in excess of 70,000 visitors each year and offers a unique insight into the countryside and a great day out for all ages.
Visitors are able to come and support the agricultural community and see first hand the work and dedication of our farmers and why British is best.”
The Young Craftsman of the Year Marquee is at the heart of the show in the Skills & Craftsmanship zone behind the Norfolk Pavilion.
The competition embraces two of the Society’s objectives, namely to promote crafts and skills and to encourage young people to extend themselves and produce work of the highest standard.
It is open to anyone aged 14-21 years who lives or studies in Berkshire, East Sussex, West
Sussex, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent and Surrey. Categories include woodwork, metalwork, ceramics, textiles and design & technology and all entries will be on display throughout the three days of the show.It was 17 years ago at the age of 20 when, Jason Willie, a blacksmith from East Grinstead won the prestigious title and to this day he remembers that moment, “I was so thrilled to finally win as I was runner up the year before and third the year before that. I’m also pretty chuffed now that I was placed above the very famous TV presenter, Holly Willoughby who had entered as a young pupil from Burgess Hill School for Girls – it’s always a good story to the tell the kids.”
Jason’s business, Anvils Blacksmiths in East Grinstead has continued to go from strength to strength since winning the competition, with a steady stream of specialist commissions including many of his pieces featured at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.
Jason’s success story is just one of dozens to come out of the Young Craftsman of the Year competition and for the majority of visitors coming to the South of England Show, this is a “must see” exhibit showcasing the outstanding skill and creativity of young craftsmen.
Other highlights during the three days include the welcome return of the main ring machinery display from vintage to robotics, the Bolddog Lings FMX motorcycle team, the popular micro-sized Shetland Pony Grand National, heavy horse turnouts, hound parades and world-class show jumping.
The newly zoned areas of the show offer a better visitor experience and with over 700 trade stands there is all the retail therapy required, the huge flower marquee and of course for foodies there is one of the most impressive food halls in the South East.
The new ‘Market Place’ offers an exciting place to shop, eat and be entertained with over 40 trade stands and 1920’s Gatsby band, Casablanca Steps, face-painting, street artists, Mish-Mash Morris Men and a few surprises including Titan the Robot who will be back to entertain crowds with his unique blend of comedy, street theatre and music.
The South of England Agricultural Society is a charity that is passionate about raising awareness of the countryside, food, farming and land based industries by providing learning opportunities for all ages, particularly the young.The three days of the show are dedicated to celebrating all aspects of British country life, promoting and supporting farming, country living and the rural community.Under 16s can enter for FREE (when accompanied by a paying adult) and online tickets available at www.seas.org.uk . Gates open at 9am and close at 6.30pm daily and there is free parking and a regular bus shuttle service from Haywards Heath train station to the showground.