Hadleigh Show director delighted the event is back for 2022
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
Step outside at this time of the year, and you’ll be met with a plethora of smells.
Freshly-cut fields, that faint whiff of farm air we all know and love, and even the smoky scent of a nearby barbecue if you’re lucky.
All synonymous with spring and summer, they really do spark memories of better times.
And next month, these scents and more will no doubt all be emanating from Holbecks Park as Hadleigh Show is back after two years off.
The country show – which has a history dating back to mid-19th century – returns for its 181st outing, and its organisers could not be more excited.
Luke Burdall Goodchild is heading up his first year as show director, and certainly has a lot up his sleeve for the event’s grand return.
Hadleigh Show holds a lot of fond memories for him.
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“I don’t reckon I’ve ever missed one – even when I was a baby. My parents have always taken me, and my father was a show steward for a long time,” he recalls.
Now 34, Luke has been stewarding the Hadleigh Show in some capacity for the last 15 years before being asked to be assistant show director in 2019.
“I was then meant to be show director in 2020 and 2021, but we all know what happened there. We look to be on the home straight for 2022 though.”
An important date on Hadleigh’s summer social calendar, the one-day event has been a staple of the town for nearly two centuries.
“It’s a showcase of the best parts of the area – with an emphasis on agriculture," says Luke. "It’s a great show for the town, and we’ve got always got a massive range on. The idea is there’s always something to spark most interests, especially if you live in a rural area.”
Think livestock displays, food and drink vendors serving an abundance of locally-sourced fare, arts and crafts, show jumping events, and a number of local businesses and charities all coming together to put on a fun family day out.
The setting, Holbecks Park, only adds to the day's appeal and charm.
“It’s just a really pretty part of town, and makes it the perfect setting. The ground sits on a hill and looks down towards the river, so you gaze across the town,” he adds.
Having to postpone what's such an intrinsic part of Hadleigh's cultural and social calendar came as a huge blow, explains Luke.
“The first year was particularly upsetting due to how close it was to the show. I think we cancelled in early March, and Covid was so new to all of us, so we were in shock.”
The only other time Hadleigh Show ceased to run was briefly during the Second World War.
“It was a real shame and disappointment – not just for us – but for everyone who volunteers, and of course the businesses who rely on trade for the show. It was heartbreaking to have to make those phone calls, such as to the marquee company who didn’t get any revenue that spring.
“The second time we cancelled, it was inevitable from a lot earlier on, and people were more psychologically prepared so we knew the direction things were going.”
Behind the scenes however, Luke and his team have been busy prepping for this year’s event – which is only just a few weeks away, taking place on May 21.
“A huge of amount planning has gone into this,” he says.
“We’ve had to find lots of new suppliers and exhibitions as things have changed between 2019 and 2022 – some people have retired since then so some businesses don’t exist the same as they once did, or have downsized. It’s been more challenging than normal.
“We’ve also had to look at different ways of operating just in case found ourselves in another situation where there were more restrictions. We started planning this in the middle of last year, and we obviously didn’t know what situation we’d be in by now, so we’ve got plans in place in case things took a turn for the worst.”
But with a summer that looks to be free of restrictions and lockdowns, it’s full steam ahead – much to Luke’s relief.
“We’re really excited for next month. And it’s the same story for every show director every year – we’ve got our fingers crossed for the weather. A sunny day will be the icing on the cake.”
So what can people expect at this year’s show?
“There’s so much happening – everything from people selling gin, to people selling pick-up trucks, country clothing, and furniture. We’ve got the local rugby club coming up, as well as gun dogs, archery, and motorcycle displays. There will also be a food hall full of delicacies, with lots of nice things to eat.
“We’ve got tractors and diggers which is always exciting, and a huge range of local livestock including cattle, donkeys, and of course Suffolk horses which are always a highlight for a lot of people. They always look spectacular when they’re lined up in the ring – children and adults alike love them. We’ve also got a lot of different local charities attending too, exhibiting what they do.
“It’s an all-ages event – bring the children and come soak up the atmosphere. It's always been a highlight of the spring and nicely kicks off the summer.”
Tickets must be bought in advance. To find out more, visit hadleighshow.co.uk