Golden celebrations as South of England Show chalks up 50 years

There will be golden birthday celebrations as The South of England Show celebrates 50 years June 8-10 at the showground in Ardingly.

Monday, 22nd May 2017, 3:15 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:17 am
The Ardingly Eye
The Ardingly Eye

For three days, the South of England Agricultural Society will throw the spotlight on the charity’s achievements over the past 50 years, with stunning displays of the best of British agriculture, equestrianism, countryside learning, horticulture and forestry; as well as great music, delicious food and drink and superb shopping.

Take a ride in the ‘Ardingly Eye’, a spectacular 32 metre high giant wheel, where you will get a unique bird’s eye view of the entire 150-acre showground which will be alive with hundreds of competitions and entertainment for all ages, arranged in zones to ensure the best possible visitor experience.

These include Food & Drink, Livestock, Discover the Countryside, Agricultural Machinery, Garden, Plants & Flowers (incorporating Bees & Honey), Equestrian (including a the Heavy Horse Village), Skills & Craftsmanship, Country Sports (incorporating The Hound Show) and the Market Place retail area.

The Society will be showcasing its charitable work and continued support for the next generation with hundreds of students from schools and colleges from across the region involved in competitions, exhibits and demonstrations including the prestigious Young Craftsman of the Year exhibition. A wonderful wild flower meadow has also been planted to mark the 50th anniversary and a permanent record of the Society’s achievements will be unveiled in the Norfolk Pavilion.

The National Farmers Union will be exploring how farming has changed over the last 50 years as well as what the future holds and in the main ring visitors will be treated to a special display of farm machinery led by Society mascot ‘Bill the Tractor’ - the first tractor that was purchased 50 years ago and still in use today on the showground.

There will be new entertainment in the main ring this year with The Devil’s Horsemen, Britain’s top equestrian stunt and trick team who will be performing breath-taking displays to music, dressed as Cossacks.

Traditional precision marching and musical arrangements from the City of Coventry Corps of Drums will impress audiences and other highlights include the high-energy, micro-sized Shetland Pony Grand National; hound parades; and the famous livestock display with hundreds of beef and dairy cattle, sheep, pigs and goats.

Over 1,500 horses and ponies will take part in the equestrian showcase that forms an enormous part of the three-day extravaganza, featuring dozens of classes from impressive heavy horse turnouts to the fast paced inter-hunt relay, spectacular show jumping to beautiful hackneys.

The Poultry Tent, organised by Arun Valley Poultry Fanciers Society, offers the opportunity not only to see and purchase a wonderful variety of different breeds of fowl but also for any would-be poultry keeper to get help and advice on all aspects of keeping chickens. Organisers are delighted to welcome Jim Young, President of the Poultry Club of Great Britain as chief judge for the poultry competitions this year.

The Heavy Horse Village will return this year and host the Weald and Downland Museum exhibition, Heavy Horse Coaches display and popular Sheep Show. ‘The Marketplace’ will also return to add to the visitor retail experience and the Musical Stage will showcase amazing musical talent from across the region.

Titan the Robot will return to entertain the crowds and families should not miss the fun and informative Sheep Dog demo as well as the hilarious street theatre act, the Flying Buttresses.

Every year, thousands of visitors to the show enjoy a unique introduction to agriculture and the British countryside as well as entertainment, music, crafts, shopping galore and one of the most impressive food halls in the South East featuring many delicious local and regional foods.

Family and friends can take full advantage of the ticket prices again this year with under 16s going free (accompanied by a paying adult £21); senior citizens and students over 16 £19. There is also free parking and a regular bus shuttle service from Haywards Heath train station to the showground.

Buy online at and save 15% off the gate entry price; offer ends midnight June 7.