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Many questions left hanging as Suffolk Show organisers look to next year

PUBLISHED: 04:00 06 June 2020

Suffolk Show Director Bruce Kerr at Trinity Park. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk Show Director Bruce Kerr at Trinity Park. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Organisers of the Suffolk Show are now scratching their heads about future planning for next year’s much-anticipated event.

Suffolk Show Director Bruce Kerr and Deputy Director James Nunn at Trinity Park. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSuffolk Show Director Bruce Kerr and Deputy Director James Nunn at Trinity Park. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

This year’s cancelled show was due to take place on May 27 and 28. With fine weather over both days, past experience suggests that – had it not been for the coronavirus crisis – 2020 would have been a bumper year, with show-goers out in force.

Show director Bruce Kerr said he had received many touching messages in the run-up to what would have been his first of three shows at the helm.

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He and his team will now be turning their attention to next year – but while things may have moved on radically for the better by then, there are still many factors currently up in the air, causing major headaches for future planning.

But the welfare of visitors and staff was “absolutely paramount”, he said. “That’s the big call – everything else is very secondary,” he said.

Suffolk Show Director Bruce Kerr and Deputy Director James Nunn at Trinity Park. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSuffolk Show Director Bruce Kerr and Deputy Director James Nunn at Trinity Park. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“At the moment we are running a number of different scenarios through consulting with the show committee and the board of trustees over what these may be. There are so many questions and not many answers,” he added. “What will the impact of social distancing be? Will there be a vaccine?”

The Kerr family’s Suffolk farm attraction business Easton Farm Park – run by Bruce’s sister Fiona Siddall – may provide some useful experience. It – along with similar businesses up and down the country – will be seeing how it can operate safely once coronavirus restrictions are eased this summer.

Phillip Ainsworth, chief executive of the Suffolk Agricultural Association – which puts on the huge annual event at Ipswich’s Trinity Park showground – estimated Suffolk Show 2020 would have attracted a crowd of around 90,000 over the two days given the weather. The 10-year average is around 86,000.

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The show is estimated to generate tens of millions of pounds for the local economy, but this year some of the 800 trade stand holders booked for the event will have missed out on an important part of their yearly revenues.

Around 22,887 ice creams and ice lollies are sold at the Suffolk Show, along with around 12,414 cups of tea or coffee. Visitors will also knock back around 4,848 milkshakes and smoothies.

They will also plough through 3,826 pots of strawberries, 2,529 bags of fish and chips and a magnificent 6,570 donuts.

And show organisers say around 75,440 people purchase food or drink at the show.

Suffolk Show Director Bruce Kerr at Trinity Park. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSuffolk Show Director Bruce Kerr at Trinity Park. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Nearly half the ticket-holders will also go on a spending splurge. Around 46% of visitors purchase clothing, shoes or accessories, while 45% splash out on home or garden products.

Past president and local food campaigner Lady Caroline Cranbrook said the loss of this year’s show was “a great disappointment and so sad”.

“The year I was president was one of the happiest times of my life,” she said.

“It was a memorable and highly enjoyable experience to be so closely involved with such a well-organised, imaginative and friendly organisation – so many people working together and so hard to create what I am sure is the best agricultural show in the country.”

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