60 years of the Aylsham Show

ED FOSS As Aylsham Show celebrates its diamond jubilee Edward Foss looks at how a small town fete grew to become one of the county’s biggest attractions

ED FOSS

It started as a small fete and gymkhana to raise money for the local recreation ground - and this year the Aylsham Agricultural Show will celebrate its 60th birthday.

As well as reaching this landmark, this year's show will also be the 60th event - an unusual situation because the 60th anniversary would normally be the 61st event.

The situation is easily explained - in 2001 there was no Aylsham Show because of the foot and mouth outbreak, so the numbers aligned themselves perfectly.


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Irrespective of those numbers, this year's show will be the usual mix of entertainment, but with the onus, as ever, on agriculture and its importance to the surrounding communities.

The largest one day agricultural show in Norfolk attracts around 20,000 people to the picturesque parkland of Blickling Hall and raises huge sums for local charitable causes.

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In fact in the last five years more than £110,000 has been handed out and last year alone £32,000 was shared between 31 charitable causes.

At its heart the show is agricultural and offers the opportunity to see a huge variety of cattle, sheep, goats and horses.

Some 150 head of cattle, 12 different sheep breeds, an alpaca or two, sheep dog demonstrations, goats and 15 horse classes are all expected.

There will also be a strong presence of trade stands with a rural and country pastimes theme.

Other key attractions focus on family entertainment and include the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the Devil's Horsemen, the Eagle and Vulture Show and The Royal Artillery Parachute Display Team.

Children are well catered for with a fun fair, sack race, tug of war, teddy bear parachute jump, stunt kite flying, fancy dress, children's nature challenge trail and much more.

Other firm favourites are vintage and classic cars, the Starting Handle Club, military vehicles, combustion engines and Sterling Helicopters offering rides over the beautiful Blickling estate.

An art tent, slow food hall, flower tent, North Norfolk Harriers, hot air balloons, cooking from Anglia TV's Country Kitchens crew, live snooker from Steve Davis and independent traders selling their wares will also make an appearance.

Food and craft stands selling local produce and more than one picturesque spot to throw down a picnic blanket and enjoy the views overlooking the lake and Blickling Park will be in plentiful supply.

t Gates open at 8am, entry is £10 for adults or £8 if bought in advance. Entry for under 16s is free, as is car parking.

SNOOKER? HOW VERY INTERESTING

Snooker superstar Steve Davis will be at the show, showing off some of his cueing skills while helping a business promote its trade. The six-times world champion is due to be on hand for most of the day and it is hoped he will be involved in a range of activities, including trick shot demonstrations.

Mr Davis will make his visit in association with Veka, an international supplier of windows, doors and conservatories.

He will be aboard the company's 'Big-Rig' mobile exhibition unit with the Buxton company NPS Glazing, which is a member of the national trade organisation Network Veka.

The vehicle will be sited on the main thoroughfare at the show.

Network Veka spokesman Chris Church said: “We hope to arrange a few activities such as trick shot demonstrations, giveaways and a youngsters' competition.

“Steve does a lot of work with the Network Veka.”

SHOW OFFERS GREAT ENTERTAINMENT

It is a focal point for nearly every visitor - the main ring provides some of the best in arena entertainment at the Aylsham Show.

Here is a short run down of just some of the attractions which will be on show this year.

Europe's number one stunt and trick riding team, the Devil's Horsemen Cossacks - who have performed at top venues all over Europe and as far afield as Malaysia - are returning to the Aylsham Show due to popular demand.

The horses are all owned and trained to perfection by top horsemaster and stunt arranger Gerard Napros and have appeared in films such as Troy, The Libertine and Batman.This is thrilling non-stop entertainment which must be seen to be believed.

Chris O'Donnell's is one of the country's most experienced falconers.

His Eagle and Vulture show combines funny, informative commentaries while exhibiting expert skills flying unique birds of prey.

The feathered stars of the show include Sidney the Bald Eagle, Batty the Bataleur Eagle, Ernie the Eagle Owl and Dyson the White Backed Vulture.

The show is also thrilled to welcome back the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, with its three classic aircraft that helped “The Few” to vistory over the Luftwaffe.

The Spitfire, Hurricane and Lancaster were all familiar sights in Norfolk skies during the war and even the sound of their engines alone can evoke a wave of nostalgia.

The Royal Artillery parachute display team, The Black Knights, are renowned for their breathtaking displays.

Falling away from their aircraft at over 12,000 feet above the arena, they will reach speeds in excess of 120 mph, streaming coloured smoke behind them before deploying their parachutes.

They will perform a whole range of stunts and canopy formations before gliding into the arena with pinpoint accuracy.

Also flying high will be the Thorpe Kite Fliers display team, who will make their colourful kites swoop and dive in just as spectacular a fashion as the eagles and the parachutists!

MAIN RING PROGRAMME

10.30am, private and trade driving classes 95-97

11.45am, flying display by the Thorpe Kites display team

12.15pm, arrival of the joint presidents in the Panhard vintage car

12.30pm, eagle and vulture show

1pm, The Devil's Horsemen - Cossack trick riding

1.30pm, The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

1.45pm, children's fancy dress competition

2.15pm, Royal Artillery parachute display team - The Black Knights

2.30pm, children's sack race

2.45pm, the grand parade

3.15pm, parade by the North Norfolk Harriers

3.30pm, eagle and vulture show

4pm, the Devil's Horsemen - Cossack trick riding

4.30pm, flying display by the Thorpe Kites display team

5pm, parade by the Starting Handle Club

5.15pm, parade by the Norfolk Military Vehicle Club

5.30pm, children's tug of war

5.45pm, parade of vintage and classic cars

6.15pm, ascent of the hot air balloons

The programme of events can be amended or altered without notice

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