Picture Gallery: Record turnout marks Wayland Agricultural Show’s comeback

Scenes from the Wayland Show 2013. PIcture: Matthew Usher.

Scenes from the Wayland Show 2013. PIcture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

The Wayland Agricultural Show bounced back in fine style this weekend with a sun-drenched celebration of rural life which broke records – and finally dispelled the dismal memories of last year's cancellation.

The historic event marked its 140th anniversary with a traditional showcase of food, farming and fun, including displays of agricultural heritage and country pursuits, acrobatic Main Ring spectacles and the finest livestock from farms around the region.

As an estimated 15,000 visitors poured onto the showground in Watton, the scene was a far cry from the disappointment of last year, when a faulty pumping station left raw sewage seeping onto the field, prompting a cancellation which sparked fears for the event's future.

But after Anglian Water contributed £100,000 in goodwill donations and sponsorship, to help the show back onto the countryside calendar, its organisers said the resurgent show could be heading for a record attendance.

Committee chairman Graham Shingfield said: 'It could not be more different to last year.

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'We have got record entries for all animals except for the pigs, and it is looking like a record attendance as well. We have just about filled our overflow car parks, which is always an indicator that it is a pretty good one, and the weather smiled on us.

'Without the money from Anglian Water we would not have had the confidence that we could pay for everything you see here. I am extremely grateful for that, but it is not just about AW, it is about everybody.

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'There has been a huge groundswell of support for us. We have had so many sponsors, members and exhibitors who, given the opportunity for a refund last year said: 'No – keep it, and use it, and we will come back next year'.'

Mr Shingfield said part of the appeal of the Wayland Show was its intimacy.

'We don't want to be a big show,' he said. 'We want to have a lot of people here but we want to retain the characteristics of being a small county show. It is much easier here to get up close to the animals and the machinery, within Health and Safety guidelines, of course.

'People don't often get that opportunity, they are separated from farming and food, but there is a huge amount of interest in food programmes on TV and people really value the time spent on breeding and caring for animals.'

One of the unique quirks of the show is a Champion of Champions competition, which pitches the winning entries from all livestock categories against each other as the winning sheep, rabbits, horses, cattle and wildfowl are judged against each other. This year, the prize was won by a Limousin cow and calf owned by PJ Gooderham of Gislingham.

Spectators around the Main Ring were entertained by the James Dylan International Motorcycle Stunt Show, the duck-herding skills of Merion Owen's Quack Pack, and equestrian and livestock displays including the Mid Norfolk Gun Dogs, West Norfolk Hunt Hounds and Horkesley Park Suffolk Punches.

Show-goers were also treated to displays of vintage farm machinery and an appearance by Flog it! and Bargain Hunt star Philip Allwood, who offered valuations of family heirlooms and antiques in the Lifestyle Marquee.

Kevin Bowes, president of the Wayland Agricultural Society, said he was delighted with the turnout. He said: 'I would suggest it is a record attendance. Just by looking around I can see more people here than I have seen during my time as president. I think it is fantastic.

'The real disaster of last year was that local charities didn't get the chance to benefit from the show. About £25,0000 to £30,000 is given away to charity each year, but that does include a very successful ball which we had in March – this year we are giving £11,800 to East Anglia's Children's Hospices.'

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