Suffolk Show 2017: See our interview with director Bee Kemball as 90,000 expected at showground
PUBLISHED: 17:56 31 May 2017 | UPDATED: 18:53 31 May 2017
Crowds turned out in their thousands for the first day of the Suffolk Show 2017 - with attendance figures expected to climb to 90,000 once the second day draws to a close.
Gun dog displays, Suffolk Punch parades, the now infamous mascot race and a bigger than ever Flower and Garden Show drew in bumper audiences as the most hotly anticipated event in Suffolk’s calendar got underway.
Famous faces including Newmarket jockey Rocco Dettori, son of Frankie, competed in the Shetland Pony Grand National while hundreds of Suffolk food producers showcased their produce in the Adnams tent.
Sunshine filtered through the clouds onto revellers throughout the day as temperatures stayed at a mild 20C.
Tomorrow’s guests are predicted to see even more of the sun – and hotter conditions – as forecasters estimate the Trinity Park showground will bask in highs of 25C.
Show director Bee Kemball said she was delighted the weather stayed so fine for the first day – as she recalled her earliest memories of the event.
Speaking this afternoon, she said: “I have been coming to the Suffolk Show since I was about four or five years old.
“My parents and my grandfather used to steward here so I was one of those children running around collecting stickers and going around all the stands so I’ve done all of it.
“As a teenager, then going around with my own children who are here today having fun somewhere and now doing this, so yes, the Suffolk Show means the world to me.”
Donald Trump, Theresa May and the Queen made an appearance at the Women’s Institute tent in the form of scarecrows.
Titan the Robot delighted youngsters by performing to crowds near the President’s Ring for most of the afternoon.
Children also posed with Ham-inator from last year’s Pigs Gone Wild trail at the Poundfield Products stall.
Shoppers spent thousands of pounds across hundreds of craft shops and the Fifth Avenue shopping village, bringing home an assortment of clothes, shoes, homeware and jewellery.
Dozens of florists, plant nurseries and garden centres from across Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire participated in the Flower and Garden show, which is set to continue tomorrow.
Chelsea Flower Show gold medallists Potash Nursery were a popular stall, with several customers congratulating them on their recent win.
Joint founder and director Mike Clare, who runs the business with his wife Sarah, said the pair were over the moon to win a medal at Chelsea.
The Suffolk showcase, likened to a “mini Chelsea” by onlookers, also boasted rich displays of colourful rhododendrons, striking pink and purple fuchsias and potted and pleached trees.
East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star mascot Tractor Boy lost the much-anticipated novelty race, which kicked off at 2.45pm in the President’s Ring.
Placing third, he managed to fight off competition from Ipswich Town mascot Crazee.
Speaking after his loss, he said: “(I’m) disappointed that I slipped on the penultimate bend. I was closing in on the winner who was just overtaking me and I was saving my energy for the final half.”
He blamed moisture on the pitch for slowing him down.
In the farm discovery zone, families got up close to fluffy chicks, baby ducklings, a Devon cow and her calf.
At the East of England Co-op stand, the Colchester-based Wellies-On care farm – which provides animal-assisted therapy, visiting hospices, care homes and schools – also had Shetlands on show.
Tomorrow, long service awards will be presented to farmers who have dedicated their lives to working in the profession.
Recipients must have worked for an agricultural or allied business for at least 30 years – there are four classes. Awards will be presented in the President’s enclosure from 10.30am.
Suffolk County Council launched their Roadsafe Initiative at their stand, close to the shopping district.
Nearby, firefighters showed excited youngsters the inside of a fire engine, while Suffolk Constabulary – who said they were not going to send more police officers in the wake of recent events such as the Manchester attack – spoke to visitors about community safety.
Keep an eye on our homepage for more live coverage of the second day.