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Video/Gallery: 175th Hadleigh Show goes back to its agricultural roots

10:42 21 May 2014

Crowds of people flocked to the Hadleigh show on Saturday . 
Stephen Gowing with Weylands Gifford.

Crowds of people flocked to the Hadleigh show on Saturday . Stephen Gowing with Weylands Gifford.

Archant

A 175-year-old country show harked back to its historic agricultural roots at the weekend while showcasing the best in modern farming methods.

The weather was kind to organisers of this year’s Hadleigh Show, with wall to wall sunshine attracting thousands of visitors to the leafy green setting of Holbecks Park.

They browsed among the aisles of trade stands, tucked into locally produced delicacies in the packed food hall and watched a host of entertaining displays in the show rings, including star attractions the Welsh Axemen and Cyril the Squirrel with his racing terriers.

With livestock farmers vying for rosettes across more than 150 classes for prize sheep, cattle, horses and goats, competition was fierce.

But according to this year’s show director Paul Gillies – who chose the theme ‘how we farm today’ – the star this time around was the farm machinery and demonstrations which highlighted the county’s rich farming heritage alongside modern agricultural practices.

Visitors to the Hadleigh Farmers’ Agricultural Association (HFAA) event were able to watch live demos and talk to farmers about how machinery such as seed drills, sugar beet harvesters and balers all contribute to the farming year and help to get our food from the field to the fork.

Mr Gillies said: “While the basic challenges of farming remain the same today, the machinery and methods we use have become bigger, faster and more efficient and we wanted to highlight this.

“In the past, we have strayed a little from our original brief, so this year we really wanted to get back to our agricultural roots with modern machinery demonstrations for arable, vegetable and livestock farming. I think last year there was only a couple of tractors in the show but this year there are around 30.

“I have to say that it has been a brilliant year with the weather on our side and we couldn’t have asked for anything better.”

Last year, the show’s food hall grew in size by a third and that trend continued this year with record numbers of food producers applying to take part.

Shoppers were tempted by everything from locally produced ice-cream, chutneys, cheeses and cordials to wine, home-baked cakes and artisan chocolate.

The rural crafts and art exhibition tents provided opportunities to bag a one-off creation while the floral display and WI tents provided inspiration for those looking to take up a country pursuit.

The show, which has become a treasured part of the local community, was originally started in 1839 by the HFAA and only ceased to run for a brief period during the Second World War.

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And depending how significant the prize, or the emotional attachment to it, their fates can range from living out their days in a dusty draw to taking pride of place on your (or your parent’s) mantelpiece.

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