Fun gets a free rein at 173rd show

MOOTIFUL: Jessica McInnes shows off her prize calf, Star, at Hadleigh Show
MOOTIFUL: Jessica McInnes shows off her prize calf, Star, at Hadleigh Show
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“A RECORD-BREAKER” is how organisers described this year’s Hadleigh Show, which attracted thousands of people at the weekend.

The rain clouds passed on by and the sun shone as more than 12,000 people descended on Holbecks Park to enjoy the 173rd annual show, which was larger and busier than ever.

“Every year we seem to be saying it was a record, but it really was a record year for attendance,” said show director Phil Bryce.

“I reckon there were probably about 12,000 to 13,000 people who came.”

But the weather nearly put a stop to the fun. Organisers had to hold an emergency meeting two weeks before the show was due to be held to decide whether or not it could go ahead.

“It was touch and go,” said Mr Bryce. “The bottom of the showground was under five inches of water. We didn’t actually make a decision for the show to finally to go ahead until days before. This show takes a year to plan and do.

“As it turned out, we had some wonderful sunshine later on in the afternoon and it was very good underfoot, not at all boggy.”

A new traffic system introduced this year proved successful, with cars coming into the showground via Coram Street and along the Gravel Pit Lane, and exiting via Lower Layham.

With sheep shearing and rural craft exhibitions, vintage tractors, Suffolk Punches, a falconry display, donkey rides, show jumping, clay shooting and a horseriding display stunt team topping the bill, there was something for everyone at the show.

There were more than 120 trade and business stands. “Adnams the brewery did so well staff had to go back to their shop in Hadleigh to get more supplies,” said Mr Bryce.

Highlights of the day included sheep racing, demonstrations by the Mid-Wales Axe Racing Team, a parade of foxhounds, beagles and bloodhounds, plus scores of rosettes and prize money given out by judges in classes for cattle, sheep, goats and horses.

There was all the fun of the fair at the large fairground with stalls and rides, including a helter skelter.

The show is organised by the Hadleigh Farmers’ Agricultural Association and, as show director, Mr Bryce was able to select a charity to receive part of this year’s proceeds.

He has chosen the Porch Project, a charity run from St Mary’s Church, Hadleigh.

The project, which grew out of an idea to support young people who gathered in the church porch every day, now gives 200 youngsters in the town a place to go after school.

Next year’s show is on Saturday, May 18.

SADDLE UP: Charlotte Wrather and Helen Sherman enjoy a donkey ride, with the help of Chris Collins, at this year’s Hadleigh Show.

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