The South of England Show, a beloved annual event organised by the South of England Agricultural Society, once again amazed visitors of all ages with its rural charm last weekend under gloriously sunny skies.
Held at the picturesque Showground in Ardingly, West Sussex, this year’s show marked its 55th year and, despite the very hot weather, attracted tens of thousands of enthusiastic visitors from far and wide. While the show celebrated agriculture, horticulture, land-based industries and the rural community, it went beyond that, offering a plethora of exciting activities and experiences for people of all ages to enjoy, creating lasting memories and a true connection with the countryside.
The heart of the show pulsated with adrenaline-pumping arena events and spectacular displays, including the Bolddog Lings FMX motocross stunt team, who delivered breathtaking performances that had everyone on the edge of their seats with their gravity-defying stunts.
Horse enthusiasts were treated to world-class showjumping competitions, the Shetland Pony Grand National and Scurry Driving competitions. They could also witness the remarkable young riders that competed in the Equestrian Games UK.
There was an abundance of activities that celebrated the richness and heritage of the countryside, including several new additions. This included the Vintage Agricultural Machinery Ring, which proved a huge hit with its tractor and steam parades, and harvesting and baling demonstrations. And also new was the Story of Wool, with sheep farmers demonstrating shearing and talking to the public about sheep farming and wool production and spinners and weavers demonstrating their age-old skills.
Visitors had the opportunity to explore an impressive array of country craft displays and trade stands, showcasing the best of traditional crafts and local artisans. From stick-making, hedge-laying and the critically endangered craft of trug-making, to the Grape & Grain Walk, where fine beverages from local vineyards and breweries could be sampled and purchased, there was something to captivate every interest.
The Discover the Countryside area provided a hands-on experience for visitors, offering activities such as forestry and fly casting. The Bees & Honey marquee offered live bee demonstrations and observation hides, allowing people to marvel at the fascinating world of these important pollinators.
Ensuring the younger generation had an unforgettable experience, the show featured various free activities which educated children about food production and its origins, and they could experience life as a Saxon or Viking in the medieval re-enactment zone.
The show presented a captivating display of best-of-breed livestock competitions, from majestic cattle and graceful sheep, to playful pigs, charming goats, and adorable rabbits. With an astounding variety of 330 different classes, visitors were treated to a delightful spectacle and could learn more about each species‘ contributions to our agricultural heritage.
Corrie Ince, Show Director for the South of England Agricultural Society, said:
“The show was a great success. It truly connected our visitors with rural industries and provided a fantastic opportunity for them to engage with the hardworking farmers, landowners, and talented craftspeople who are located across the south east.
“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all those who supported us, and we sincerely hope you enjoyed the weekend’s activities. The success of the South of England Show would not have been possible without the invaluable contribution of our dedicated volunteers and staff, who work tirelessly to bring this event to life year after year. Their commitment allows us to celebrate the agricultural world and share its wonders with the public, inspiring countless individuals, especially the next generation. Furthermore, the support from our show visitors and Society Members enables us, as a charity, to support those interested in agriculture and other land-based industries. After a few hard years for everyone, it really felt like the show was back to its very best this year.ˮ
The Society’s next show is the Autumn Show & International Horse Trials, which will be held on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th September 2023. The show will feature the long-established South of England International CCI*** and CCI** Horse Trials affiliated with the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), including British Eventing national classes, as well as a plethora of countryside sports, displays, and ‘have-a-go’ activities for our visitors and their dogs, all designed to celebrate the joys of the countryside, canine and equestrian pursuits. For more information or to book tickets visit www.seas.org.uk.