Countess of Wessex among crowds as Royal Norfolk Show celebrates county's best
In a celebration of farming, food and rural life, this week's Royal Norfolk Show was an event to make the county proud.
The opening day of the two-day event yesterday had almost everything in its favour, apart perhaps from cool and cloudy skies, and a Royal visitor who spent almost all day at the showground.
Sophie, Countess of Wessex, in her role as this year's show president, went on walkabout chatting with exhibitors, officials and showgoers. She handed out trophies to some of the livestock champions and talked to food producers and to farmers, including NFU members celebrating the organisation's centenary.
Show organisers have lined up two fun-packed days to entertain visitors and create a showcase of everything that is great about Norfolk. It celebrated its farming heritage, embraced its home grown food and produce and welcomed hundreds of trade stand exhibitors.
West Norfolk competitors and exhibitors could be found in every corner of the showground and especially in the livestock classes.
They include Lee and Kirsty Oakes and their children George (9) and Pheobe (5) who were celebrating a reserve championship in the Beef Shorthorn classes with their homebred animal.
They have about 20 Beef Shorthorns and their bull Hustler at Oakes Pedigrees, at South Pickenham. They started raising the cattle in 2012. “My grandfather allowed me to buy two cows to get it going,” said Lee.
They also have a flock of South Down sheep and are venturing into the catering trade.
This is their second visit to the Norfolk Show. “The first time we came we were last and this time we have got a reserve champion so we must be getting it right.”
There were thousands of horses on the showground from Shires to Shetlands, and show jumpers to carriage horses. Samantha Brooker and her daughter Elizabeth had three golden oldies in the veteran horse classes.
There was 22-year-old Millie who they have owned since she was born, Rosie, aged 20 and 17-year-old piebald cob stallion Shiloh. They are all still ridden and Samantha attributes their tip-top condition to “letting them be horses and letting them spend as much time in the paddocks as possible.”
Members of Young Farmers' Clubs at Downham, Terrington St Clement and Swaffham, had displays cataloguing each club's history in a nod to the Federation's 75th anniversary.
Set up in 2015, the Swaffham team is one of most recent in the county is the holder of the eastern area award for the best improving club. It has already grown to around 30 members and had burnt plenty of midnight oil completing its exhibit and preparing a float for the main ring Farming Through The Ages parade. South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss is the branch president and members are hoping she might pop in to see them on her visit to the show today.
West Norfolk companies displaying the latest advances in farm machinery included Doubleday's, of St Germans. They brought a selection of high-tech telehandling equipment to show farmers and producers.
A Fring farm's sterling efforts to protect the rare grey partridge got them shortlisted for the prestigious Silver Partridge Trophy on Wednesday.
The award, presented on the opening day of the show each year, recognises and rewards county farms and estates that have gone the extra mile to sustain bird numbers.
It was the first time that Whitehouse Farm, Fring, had been put forward and its gamekeeper Andy Bloy and Tom Hancock, son of the farm owner Jeremy Hancock, attended the presentations.
They said that thanks to predator control and protecting habitats and food for the birds, number of grey partridge had risen from 20 pairs last year to 61 pairs at the county this spring.
“We do everything we can to protect the birds and we will certainly be back here again next year,” they said.