Big crowds enjoy pleasures of country life at Aylsham Show

All the joys of living in the countryside – including farming, good food, fresh air and enjoying the environment – were savoured by bumper crowds at the Aylsham Show yesterday.

Livestock rings and the members enclosure bustled with the well-groomed and well-bred, while families soaked up the action and atmosphere in the parkland setting overlooking Blickling Hall.

Threatening early morning clouds cleared to unveil a sunny day which boosted the attendance to 18-20,000 at the venue which had dried out from Saturday storms that drenched the estate.

Classic tractors and steam engines chuffed and puffed away alongside their overall clad owners.

Food tents and a cookery theatre served up a rich menu of local food and meal ideas, while children were introduced to the fun of food through games.

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And the main ring action of motorcyclists and horse displays was punctuated by simple rural pursuits such as children's fancy dress, tug of war and sack racing, while youngsters also dashed into the ring to run around with the hounds of harrier huntsmen.

Daredevil horsepower antics from the Stallions and Substance and Bolddog Lings equestrian and motorcycle teams, were followed by a more sedate but spectacular flypast by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, joining a squadron of dragonflies fluttering around the lake shores on an idyllic late summer day.

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Mingling with the crowds was actor John Hurt who lives near Cromer who said he and his family were enjoying the event, and praised the 'feel and pace' of life away from the city.

Show president Jimmy Fowell said: 'The attraction of the show is that we stick to our roots of being a traditional agricultural show, with something for everyone in a beautiful setting.'

There was a good turnout from the farming fraternity because the weekend rain meant it was too wet to do any harvesting, he added.

Treasurer David Hitcham said the attendance meant they hoped to match the �35,000 raised for good causes last year.

One man doing his own bit for charity was head sheep steward Gareth Daniels, a shepherd and shearer from Little Barningham who had his own head shorn along with friend Dan Watt from the Hunworth Bell pub in an effort they hope will raise �2,000 for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

A farm shop and restaurant will share the title of Aylsham Show Food Heroes after judges could not choose between them.

The Relish Restaurant from Newton Flotman and Walsingham Farm Shop tied in their scores as officials picked an overall champion from four category winners.

Restaurateurs Jeremy and Rachael Parke won the section for the best use of regional produce on their menu.

They have run their venture for six years, getting their meat from neighbouring Swainsthorpe, and have suppliers mostly within a 10-mile radius.

Some of their vegetables come from even closer to home – raised beds and polytunnels in the back garden.

The couple have also added a pizza oven and cook them with local toppings on Sunday nights which have turned from a quiet to a busy evening.

Jeremy, who does the gardening and cooking while Rachael is front of house, said they were thrilled to win a share of the award.

Walsingham Farm Shop partner Elizabeth Baker was pleased with the recognition of their efforts, which had included a doubling of the business.

They have opened a second outlet at Norfolk Lavender in Heacham as well as their Walsingham village centre base.

The venture, was won the best food and drink retail category, began in 2006 as a 'meat and one veg' operation selling beef and potatoes outlet for the farm.

Adding a range of other tenants and suppliers now sees it providing a wider selection of produce to customers who are a blend of locals and visitors.

'We don't sell toilets rolls or washing powder but we want to be an alternative to going to the supermarket,' added Mrs Baker.


Children's fancy dress: Overall and individuals winner Bumblebee, Amelia Gallant from Taverham.

Individuals: 2 Fairy princess and unicorn (Daisy Bowles from Kirstead Green); 3 Combine harvester (James Chare).

Groups: 1 North Norfolk knights and princess (Daisy and India Taylor, JoJo Green and Rub Vaughan-Jones), 2 Flower Power (Bulwer-Long grandchildren Ruby, Ella-Rose, Poppy and Honey from Heydon), 3 Dalmatians (Hazel Needham and Charlotte Walker)

Children's vegetable competition:

Longest runner bean 1 Megan Howes 75cm, Lucy Lawrence 74.5cm, 3 Isabelle Nash 72.5cm

Best onion: 1 Henry Hunter-Swann, 2 Charlotte Hunter-Swann, 3 Jazmin Jarvis

Biggest marrow: 1 Archie Osbourne 13.73kg, 2 Henry and Charlotte Hunter-Swann 11.53kg, 3 Alena Medlar 10.32kg

Garden in a box: 1 Callum and Abbie Adkins, 2 Rebecca Hempstead, 3 Adam Waller.

Trade stands

Trade: 1 Home Grown Revolution raised beds, Tunstead, 2 Dale Head Woodworkers, Little Barningham, 3 Scotts Sheds and Fences, Norwich

Petticoat Lane: 1 Robert Cooper planters of Aylsham, 2 Juliette's Patisserie, Wymondham, 3 Barbara Strutt, handmade soft furnishings

Agricultural: 1 Pugs and Drummers, Northrepps rats and rabbits management, 2 Farmbits Wymondham, 3 Hugh Crane, Upton.

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