Suffolk is proud today

IT'S got everything from sheep dogs to sausages, rabbits to royalty - and today the Suffolk Show opens its gates to visitors. Feature writer JAMES MARSTON visits to get the lowdown on what's happening today.

IT'S got everything from sheep dogs to sausages, rabbits to royalty - and today the Suffolk Show opens its gates to visitors. Feature writer JAMES MARSTON visits to get the lowdown on what's happening today.

TODAY is a day for Suffolk to be proud of its roots, to put its traditions and innovations on parade.

Finishing touches were underway this morning, as thousands of visitors flocked to Trinity Park, Ipswich for the county's 176th Suffolk Show. They are expected include government officials and ministers, so the show is a big chance for the county to show off what it has got and what it does.

Suffolk Agricultural Association's executive director Christopher Bushby said: “This is going to be one of the biggest and best shows. We have a full house of trade stands and this year's show is bursting with livestock and horses. Suffolk is a hidden gem and the show reflects the health of the county.

“We are determined to keep developing the show, taking on board changes in customers' expectations and reflecting the changing nature of Suffolk and the region. We look forward to welcoming visitors to two very special days of celebration in the Suffolk Calendar.”

Royal visitor Prince Edward was due to visit the showground from 11.50am today after flying in to Wattisham. He will present prizes to Suffolk schoolchildren, visit the Sports Village and watch a parade of the Royal British Legion standards.

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Last year's 175th anniversary show saw some of the coldest weather ever experienced at the event, but an estimated 88,000 still went to the show, the third highest attendance in the last ten years.

Stephen Miles, show director, said: “This year's show will feature more than 800 tradestands, more than 600 livestock classes competing for over £70,000 in prize money, improved themed areas, exciting ring displays and all the traditional favourites.”

The showground's Grand Ring will once again provide a focal point during the two-day event.

Stephen added: “The Royal Artillery Motor Cycle display team return to the show this year with their twice daily high octane performances.

“The 20-man team will perform feats of courage and skill, showing precision riding at its very best. The display promises some of the fastest crossovers in the world, with closing speeds of 80 - 90 mph.”

Also in the ring will be the show's traditional centrepiece, the Grand Parade of livestock featuring many breeds of heavy horses, cattle, and sheep from across the UK.

One of the most popular features of the show will be the British Food Hall. Stephen said: “It will again offer a variety of locally-produced foods and food products. The cookery theatre has been organised by Otley College and will feature students from the college along with guest chefs demonstrating how to make delicious and nutritious meals using Suffolk produce.”

In recent years evening entertainment has proved popular on the first evening of the show. This year the music will be provided by Millennium, a Robbie Williams tribute band. They will be performing from 6.30pm on the President's Lawn.

Lunches and refreshment are available in the Evening Star tent, with entertainment by a live band.

Police are asking motorists to be prepared for delays in the area, and lock up their cars. Roads Policing Inspector Trevor Sharman said: “We are asking non-show traffic to find an alternative route if at all possible.”

Ticket prices this year are: Adults £16 on the day, children £6 and Senior citizens' £12. Car parking £5. A family ticket costs £40 for two adults and two children.

What did you think of the show? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to

Fifteen-year-old Virginia Crawford of Topcroft near Bungay is among the livestock exhibitors. Virginia said: “I'm showing my Holstein dairy calf in the calf class and young handlers' section, this is my first time showing here. I enjoy the show as it is something the whole family does together and there is a great atmosphere.”

There will also be Heavy Horses classes, as well as the spectacular Coaching Marathon - which features the best four horse team stage-coaches in the country.

Norwich-based FT Construction salesman Jamie Hunt, who was polishing a £40,000 Case back hoe loader said: “We are agents for Case Construction Equipment from our base in Norwich, so the Suffolk Show is very important to us and gives us a presence in the Suffolk area.”

The Suffolk show will also feature a variety of trade stands activities and displays representing countryside pursuits, wildlife, rural skills and crafts. In the rural craft tent watercolour artist Christopher Marshall was putting the finishing touches to his stand. He said: “I specialise in pictures of shooting dogs and country pursuits. I have been coming to the Suffolk Show for 20 years and it is a very good show. I come from Bridgewater in Somerset and it is always worth my while.”

Launched at last year's show, the Suffolk Luxurious Lifestyle Pavilion will be returning with more of the county's best interior designers, furniture and soft furnishing manufacturers. The area will also feature sample room layouts and designs.

In the show's flower tent Julia Eeles of Stowmarket Flower Club was preparing a display. She said: “We are doing an arrangement for Stowmarket Flower Club under the title 'The World Today'.

“We are depicting that the world is a smaller place through communication using a satellite dish, a mobile phone and a computer as well as shamrock chrysanthemums and green roses and red anthuriums.”

Otley College garden design students Rosalind Douglas and Bella Pearce were preparing a medieval garden to exhibit to visitors. Rosalind said: “It is lovely to see how the theory works in practice and the Suffolk Show gives us the opportunity to show to the public what we have learnt.”

As he polished Old Tyme Galloping Horses, brought from Rochester in Kent, Thomas Botton said: “This is one of the best shows around. There are a lot of attractions for visitors.”

SPORT is a big theme at this year's show and Ipswich-based clubs will be providing displays at the sports village.

They include:

Ipswich Basket Ball Club - demonstrating a Junior two ball shooting competition and ball skills, plus fun and games for all.

St Helens Amateur Boxing Club - Boxing and fitness drills with glove and pad work. Taster sessions open to all.

Pipers Vale Gymnastics Club - showcasing the beautiful and complex sport of gymnastics, including an interactive trampet session where members of the public will be guided by dedicated coaches and experienced gymnasts.

Gainsborough Community and Sports Centre Karate Club - High skilled demonstrations and open taster sessions for the beginner and advanced

Lait School of Dance - Vibrant demonstrations and taster classes of ball room, Latin and salsa dancing. Disco free style/hip hop/rock roll and the chance to have a go at hip hop and rock and roll

Orwell Panthers Athletics Club - Non competitive athletic drills and games designed for people with disabilities but open for all to try

Ipswich Judo Club - Dynamic displays of Judo with a chance to try basic skills and throws.

Samba Soccer - Fancy footwork and football tricks to music. Demos and taster sessions.

Ipswich Borough councillor Judy Terry, who has responsibility for arts, culture and leisure, said: “We are looking forward to showcasing our opportunities and facilities to a wide audience and are confident the Team Ipswich stand will be a big draw.”