Putting it together - the eve of the Suffolk Show
PUBLISHED: 19:00 28 May 2019
The Tuesday before day one of the Suffolk Show is all about getting Trinity Park ready to welcome tens of thousands of visitors. Our reporter interrupted proceedings...
"You can see Felixstowe Docks from up there," says Honorary Show Director Bee Kemball, who has already been up the new Viewing Tower twice.
If you ever wondered what it must be like to see over the showground and beyond, this year you can do just that... always assuming you make the minimum height. A wondrous feat of scaffolding, there are around 120 steps to negotiate before you get the best view ever.
Meanwhile, around the Viewing Tower, the emergency services were gathering with their vehicles in what is dubbed the Superhero area. Among the seven police vehicles there will be a camera van, a road policing vehicle, a rural crime van and a motorbike, says community engagement sergeant Steve Wright.
The eve of the Suffolk Show is always full of anticipation and hard work. This will be Bee Kemball's third and last year in her role and she's looking forward to another fantastic show.
Many of the tents are tied tight, not yet ready to receive the crowds. There are lines of white canvas will be opened up to reveal... a vista of attractions, old and new. Tomorrow, people will throng the aisles between the the marquees, heading for their favourite parts of the show.
Overhead, an Apache helicopter from RAF Wattisham, hovers before descending with pinpoint precision on a patch of grass outside the showground. From there, it will be towed into position alongside all the displays and stalls set out by the armed services and associated charities.
Major James Milnes, with the 6th Regiment Army Air Corps was co-ordinating - this is his fifth time at the show. "Five years ago we had 12 displays and now it's nearly 30," he says. "We have all the Suffolk military units - Army and Air Force plus the Navy represented by (submarine) HMS Vengeance, which is affiliated to Bury St Edmunds."
"We also have the United States Air Force and the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team."
"The military charities are all here, including the Royal British Legion."
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There will also be a pop-up cafe representing Combat 2 Coffee.
Walking up to the Flower and Garden exhibits, there are five schools gardens in this year's contest. The theme for 2019 is Gardens of the World and, once again, the primary-aged children have produced inventive and thoughtful displays - including one focussing on the environmental threats to the natural world; another with vibrant South American colours. Choosing a winner will be a tough task for the judges.
The floral and arboreal area outside the main flower tent is, once again, a collaboration between Barcham Trees, Framlingham, and Roger Gladwell, Landscaping and Garden Design, near Woodbridge.
When we arrive, David Johnson is mowing the grass - indoors, under the marquee. The sunshine and rain has given it a growth spurt.
This year, Barcham and Gladwell are featuring pine trees, rhododendrons and lupins - very popular, this year, lupins. A willow screen is under construction.
Under cover there is a lush garden designed for the Suffolk Agricultural Association with a glorious sweep of azaleas, in all manner of pink hues, along the centre.
Across the Trinity Park showground there are people putting up pergolas, erecting fairground rides, unloading vans and lorries, checking inventories. Everyone is focussed on making the two days of the Suffolk Show the best they can be. While the pigs, rabbits, sheep, horses and cows are still arriving, in the cattle shed, some farmers have already set up their pitches. The Cawstons are here - grandad, John; dad, Matthew, and daughter Ava. This is John's 59th year at the show - the county show has been an annual event ever since he was a small boy; ever since Matthew was a small boy and ever since Ava was tiny.
It is a big family occasion with Matthew's five and eight-year-old nieces also coming along to help.
Ava, eight, will be showing Jan Nellie, a Holstein. Ava, who handles the three-month old heifer, expertly, has been showing the calves since she was five. They will all be up at 3am on Wednesday to set about making the cows look their best with a wash and brush-up..
Drawing on pieces from what appears to be a giant wooden Meccano kit, students and staff from Easton and Otley College are putting together the gates for the show-jumping in the Grand Ring.
It's nearly all there, in readiness for Wednesday's first day of the Suffolk Show. As Cole Porter's famous lyric goes: "Another op'ning; another show...