Sussex’s most popular countryside event, the South of England Show, returned last weekend after a year off due to the pandemic. The sun shone for the three days of the show and saw thousands of visitors enjoying the long-awaited annual family extravaganza.
The show which was held at the iconic South of England Showground in Ardingly, West Sussex, was able to run this year as the setting was deemed a ‘Good to Go’ venue by Visit England with strict Covid-19 regulations and restricted visitor numbers in place.
Organised by charity, the South of England Agricultural Society, the show was established in 1967 to celebrate and educate the public about all things agricultural. Returning in style this year’s event was certainly one of the Society’s most well-received shows since the pandemic.
The show welcomed visitors of all ages and interests and saw families and friends once again enjoying a day out together. The 50-acre showground bought together an array of local food producers, agricultural education, livestock and farming culture as well as hound shows and showjumping, and much, much more.
The hugely diverse crowd enjoyed a jam-packed programme of entertainment which took visitors back to the event’s ‘roots’ with agriculture and country pursuits at the heart of the show.
Elements of the show were different to previous years to accommodate the new safety restrictions; however, beloved classics such as livestock parades, the inter hunt relay and top-class showjumping still featured in the 2021 programme. Also popular were the Food Hall and Village, which featured a wonderful array of local producers from across the South, and a new Grape & Grain Walk which showcased local vineyards and breweries. Since there was no livestock competition, the exhibitors were able to really engage with the public in new elements such as the mock cattle auction and preparing sheep for showing demonstrations.
Shopping offered something for everyone from the budding equestrian and dog lover to the countryside fashionista and avid gardener. Visitors looking to experience traditional countryside activities and crafts were also able to enjoy highlights such as demos of trug making, willow weaving and shepherd hut building.
Younger members of the family learnt about hundreds of animals, took part in an array of interactive experiences, and discovered where food comes from and how it’s produced.
Older children were able to experience life as a Saxon or Viking in the medieval re-enactment zone, try their hand at archery and axe throwing, and watch the heavy horses in the main ring.
Corrie Ince, Show Director for the South of England Agricultural Society, commented:
“The South of England Show is the highlight of our annual calendar and is the event people truly get excited for. Over the years we have welcomed millions of visitors, many returning, who have love and a passion for the great British outdoors. While this year’s show had to be different to adhere to the new Covid safety measures, it still offered visitors the chance to really connect with the countryside, as well as rural businesses and local food producers. They were able to see, meet, learn and even buy from the farmers and landowners from across the South and so support those who have done so much to support us during the pandemic.”
“The South of England Agricultural Society is a charity, and our events showcase the best in agriculture, horticulture, forestry and the countryside. This helps us raise vital funds to support people with an interest or involvement in land-based industries. Our charity helps not only those in the farming sector but also provides a vital service in educating and inspiring school children to learn about the industry and the land. We would like to thank everyone that came out to support us after what has been a difficult year for so many.”