PUBLISHED: 12:31 14 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:21 20 February 2013
The Royal County of Berkshire Show just goes from strength to strength thanks to the people who help make it happen. Here we profile some of them on the eve of this year's show which runs on September 21 & 22...
MAIN PHOTOGRAPHY: David Morrison
The Chairman and the President
Chairman Rosemary Balsdon says: "The Royal County of Berkshire Show is one of the highlights of the year. It's a great shop window for agriculture and the farming and rural communities, as well as offering a feast of entertainment. It is more important than ever that we inspire people to learn more about where their food comes from and to celebrate with us as agriculture meets the challenges of the 21st century."
President Richard Fuller, of Fuller's Brewery, lives in Highclere and has been coming to the show for more than 15 years. He says:
"It's gone from strength to strength. I've been involved with a number of shows and it's always been the one that other shows look to as a shining example. It's all about getting the right balance between entertainment and education and it plays such a vital role in educating people about farming and the countryside."
The sheep breeder
Nigel Wernham is chairman of the agricultural committee and head of the sheep section. He farms at Stockcross and rears Pole Dorset and rare breed Dorset Horns.
"It is great to see all the livestock back. For me, the livestock is so important to the show, so when we didn't have it last year because of Foot and Mouth and Blue Tongue restrictions, it was a real pity. Livestock farmers are having a tough time at the moment with rising costs not being reflected in market returns. It will be a boost for local exhibitors to get back competing against each other with their livestock for the prestige of winning at a major national show right on their doorstep."
The 'Young Farmer'
Gordon Fletcher, from Bradfield, would be the first to admit he's not your archetypal 'Young Farmer'. He's been associated with the organisation since he was just 14 years-old and has been involved with the Royal County Show for the last two. "You don't have to be young to be one," he smiles.
Says Gordon: "It's an opportunity for us to tell the people what we're all about and what we do and who we are. We don't wear green wellies and get drunk. It's also our way of saying thank you to the Newbury and District Agricultural Society for all the support they give us during the year, by assisting with the show, distributing leaflets and helping in the main arena."
Qualified florist Rhona Tucker from Henwick, near Thatcham, oversees the show's horticultural section.
She says: "I've seen the interest in gardening and horticulture really grow over the last few years. When I first started helping we had one long marquee, now it is an 'L'shape and we also have the popular show gardens that were introduced for the first time last year. We've got them again this year, but they do take a lot of organising."
Highlights at the this year's show
The great news this year is that livestock is back after its absence last year due to Foot and Mouth and Blue Tongue restrictions. The show is the last major outdoor agricultural show in the calendar and has historically attracted exhibitors from across the country. The livestock section is one of the most popular features, with crowds thronging to the marquees to see the animals at close quarters and enjoying the unmistakeable buzz of the classes and grand parade of winners in the main ring.
Sharing the limelight in the main ring this year will be the spectacular Household Cavalry Musical Ride.
As well as an array of fantastic main ring attractions, the show will see a return for popular features including the garden show, cookery theatre, rural and craft area, vintage cars and tractors, and, of course, the traditional evening balloon ascent.
In addition to the popular existing Horticulture Tent with floral art, inter-village and display competitions, the "Gardens of Distinction" area will include: show gardens, hanging basket, trough and vegetable competitions.
The WI is running a "best dressed pant" competition to raise funds and awareness for ovarian cancer.
This year also sees a new area - the sports zone - which is designed to appeal to youngsters and teenagers with, among others, representatives from Newbury Rugby Club taking part.
Save money with an early booking. Advance ticket holders have the added bonus of gaining fast track entry to the show. Advanced ticket prices are; £12 (Adults) (£15 on the gate); £10 (concessions/5-16 years and senior citizens 65years+/£12 on the gate). Family tickets for two adults and two concessions are priced at £35 (£40 on the gate). Children under five go free.
Tickets can be bought online at http://www.berkshireshow.co.uk/CountyShow/shopping.html until midday on Friday, September 12; by phone from the Corn Exchange box office 01635 522 733 until midnight on Friday, September 19; by post until Friday, September 12 by writing to Newbury Showground including a cheque made out to N&DAS with a postal charge of £1; in person from outlets across Berkshire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and North Hampshire. Newbury Showground is located just off Junction 13 on the M4, near Newbury.
For more information contact 01635 247111, www.berkshireshow.co.uk
WIN! A VIP day out for two at the Royal County of Berkshire Show, worth £126
Enjoy a VIP experience for two at The Royal County of Berkshire Show. The prize includes parking in the VIP car park, a free show programme, entry to the Members' Enclosure with lunch. Three runners-up will also win family tickets, worth £40 each.
All you have to do is answer the following question:
What will this year's star attraction be in the main ring?
Entry is via our website at www.berkshire-life.co.uk
or by post to: RCBS Competition, Berkshire & Chilterns Life, 28 Teville Road, Worthing, BN11 1UG. Closing date is September 10, 2008.
Terms and Conditions Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash. Winners will be notified by telephone, or email, by Berkshire & Chilterns Life by September 12. Winners will need to dress accordingly in order to access the members' enclosure. Visit www.newburyshow.co.uk for further details. The Organisers advise that due to the uneven nature of the terrain of this event it may be at times difficult for spectators to move around freely. All spectators enter at their own risk and are advised to wear suitable footwear.