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Showing the country way

PUBLISHED: 14:04 30 April 2014 | UPDATED: 14:05 30 April 2014

The Hadleigh Show 2013
inside the Food Hall

The Hadleigh Show 2013 inside the Food Hall

The Suffolk Show might be the biggest two days out in the county, but there are other rural shows which are crowd-pullers in their own right

The Hadleigh Show 2013
Cattle judgingThe Hadleigh Show 2013 Cattle judging

Hadleigh Farmers and Agricultural Association celebrates its 175th anniversary this year.

To mark the event, Hadleigh Show president Emily Holden has planted an oak tree at Holbecks Park, just 50 yards from where her father planted a tree to commemorate the club’s 150th year.

A new updated tie for members has been crafted at Vanners of Sudbury and plans are afoot for a grand ball at Le Talbooth in Dedham later this year.

The absolute highlight of the year will be the 175th Hadleigh Show. Chris Partridge, chairman of Hadleigh Farmers and Agricultural Association, and his wife, Sarah, have been involved in the local farming community their entire lives.

They share Bridges Farm in Kersey with their four children and all are looking forward to the show. Fifteen years ago Chris was show director, two of his brothers have been directors and chairmen, and his older sister was secretary until four years ago. Sarah, has also been a steward and exhibitor since 1982.

“I’ve been involved with the show for about 30 years,” Chris recalls. “I can’t remember a year when I have missed one. I think it’s very important. It’s the highlight of our year and our biggest event.”

While Hadleigh Show may be the association’s biggest event, it is not its only one. In fact, throughout the year members enjoy winter meetings, clay pigeon shoots, a golf day and more. All adhere to the association’s founding mantra to ‘promote the cause of agriculture by the discussion of subjects and disseminating of information relative to its practice’.

When it comes to the show, Chris’s job as chairman is to support and advise people – including the 160 volunteer stewards – in the run-up to the event, which regularly attracts up to 12,000 people.

It’s a big operation, and Chris is hoping on the day he’ll be able to enjoy walking around with the president as well as the show director Paul Gilles, who has chosen a theme of ‘how we farm today’.

The show is one of the few surviving one-day events of its kind in the UK, and is a popular fixture on the local calendar. It has only been cancelled once, during the foot and mouth outbreak of 2001, although Chris reveals some may not know it was in jeopardy as little as two years ago due to a spell of severe weather.

“We had a meeting 10 days beforehand and seriously considered cancelling it, but with better weather forecast, decided not to,” he says.

The Show also raises money for charity.

“Last year we gave £12,000 to local worthy charities as well as the Royal Agricultural Benevolence Association because of the terrible weather in the west country and elsewhere. We were pleased to make a very substantial donation.”

Hadleigh Show, Sunday May 17,

Holbecks Park, Hadleigh IP7 5DP

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