Visitors thrilled at Weald and Downland autumn show

Jumbo Lovett receiving the Alec Dedman cup from the Museum Director Richard Pailthorpe.

Jumbo Lovett receiving the Alec Dedman cup from the Museum Director Richard Pailthorpe.

COMPETITIVE broom-making, crafty carving and excellent horse skills thrilled visitors at the autumn countryside show at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum.

More than 5,000 people visited the beautiful 45-acre downland site in Singleton for the annual event which showcases and celebrates many traditional countryside activities.

Among the highlights of last weekend’s show were the museum’s magnificent working shire horses and displays from awe-inspiring Percherons, Comtois and Clydesdales.

Vintage tractors prepared the ground after the harvest, and there was a rare demonstration of an anzani iron horse walking tractor.

Dan Bryant, from Portsmouth, said: “It was a fantastic day at the museum. The kids loved the broom-making competition and the craft skills on display were very inspiring. I’m tempted to go home and start wood-carving straight away.”

The weekend’s celebrations also included a fun dog show, gun dog display, working donkeys, a falconry display, and a chance for visitors to enjoy a horse-drawn wagon ride around the museum’s most picturesque areas.

Sue O’Keefe, events co-ordinator at the museum, said: “It was a wonderful event with a great atmosphere.

“It was good to hear grandparents reminiscing about their experiences of steam threshing and then watch children put their dogs through their paces at the dog show.

“We worked hard to make sure that there was something for everyone.”

A number of craftsmen demonstrated their skills in hurdle-making, hazel arches, shingles, hedge-laying, traditional tools and timber frames.

Among them were the association of pole lathe turners, and the Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex coppice groups.

The Alec Dedman Cup was presented to the show’s commentator Jumbo Lovett, in recognition of his many years service as expert compere at the museum’s shows, and his contribution to the public’s knowledge of heavy horses.

On Saturday, visitors competed to make the best traditional besom broom, an unexpectedly technical skill which took many by surprise.

There was steam threshing all weekend and the horticultural show proved a great hit with bakers, preserve-makers and gardeners, contributing to a colourful, autumnal display.




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