Ever since the end of world war two, farmers in the Cranleigh area have upheld the proud tradition of agricultural shows, with a family friendly atmosphere, hotly contested livestock and horse competitions, adrenalin filled ring entertainment, hands on activities and shopping.
One family stands out – the Elliotts of Whipley Manor Farm. They were tenant farmers at Painshill Farm from 1800 until 1920 when Daniel Elliott bought Whipley Manor. Daniel was the first president of the Cranleigh and District Farming Club which founded the show, and his son David was an early chairman. Grandson Adrian has done several stints as chairman of the Cranleigh and South Eastern Agricultural Society as it is now called, and this year it is the turn of his great grandson William!
A lot has changed in agriculture over those four generations. Early shows were dominated by Friesian and Holstein dairy cows. Now you are more likely to see magnificent continental bulls or shaggy highland cattle, plus a good entry of sheep, as beef, sheep and arable farming have replaced dairying.
“My grandfather grew up with the wartime agriculture committees,” said Adrian. “At the end of the war rather than disband them the farmers were encouraged to keep them going and run shows and competitions. I didn’t get involved until the late 1960s. My father was chairman when they organised the purchase of Cranleigh showground and he became president in the 1980s.
“In some ways it has changed over the years and in others it has kept its traditions. The original idea of the show was to show off your own animals for sale for breeding but the advent of artificial insemination and embryo transfer has speeded up the process of genetic improvement. But it means there is less of a business incentive to take your livestock round the showing circuit. People who still do it carry on because they enjoy the tradition and are still selling breeding stock.
“We run the show because we are trying to put something back into the community and show people what farmers are trying to do.”
For entry forms and tickets go to www.cranleighshow.co.uk Online bookings: adult £11; senior (60+) £7; children aged between five and 16, £1; under fives free; day membership, £20.
Full price tickets will be available on the day: adult £14; senior £10; child £1. Dogs are welcome on leads. Parking is free.