“We knew that Saturday was going to be a challenge,” said show manager Lucy Hegarty. “It has been 28 years since the England squad reached a semi-final, and while numbers were visibly down, the five fan zones we provided for visitors to watch the game were a resounding success.”
Future of farming
On Friday there were a number of important discussions, debates and visits which highlighted the current political climate in the agricultural sector. Rural Plc started the morning with a presentation and annual report explaining the financial implications of the past year on the farming sector.
During the first day of the show, president of the Kent County Agricultural Society (KCAS), Lord Colgrain, chairman, Kevin Attwood, and members of the board of directors guided Neil Parish MP, chair of the environment, food and rural affairs committee, around the show enabling him to speak to growers and farmers to understand the problems for the industry in Kent.
This was followed by Hadlow College’s launch of its one of a kind, innovative Vision50 prototype to coincide with the institution’s 50th anniversary.
Designed to change the face and future of farming, this 8 x 5m piece of technology is an educational tool designed for students studying at Hadlow. The prototype draws on the latest advancements in computer simulation technology to create an immersive learning environment for students to solve life-like farming scenarios. “Hadlow must not only survive the technological disruption to come, it must be at the forefront, leading and innovating where others follow,” said Hadlow College’s deputy principal and chief executive officer, Mark Lumsdon-Taylor. “Digitally, we will be at the cutting-edge of technology for the rural industries we serve. Robotics, air technology and globalisation are here to stay.”
Continuing show success
Over the weekend the highest number of sheep entries since 2007 competed in various classes with supreme sheep champion being awarded to Chiltern Beltex from Oxfordshire for its aged ewe, Best Before. Owner Emily South said that the ewe clearly ‘wanted to win’ and according to the judges, Best Before was a ‘beauty of a ewe, stood strong and square on all four corners and showed herself off very well in the ring’. Reserve sheep champion was presented to Wakeham, Dawson and Harmer.
Cattle entries were slightly down after record numbers in 2017 due to a clash with the national Simmental show. Designer Holsteins from Essex took home the supreme dairy champion with Easthaugh Audrey 70. Reserve dairy champion was presented to D Heasman with Pylon Brazil Eurotrack.
Jointly owned by Peter Prior and Eddie Brigham Easthaugh Audrey 70, has now won 12 overall supreme show championships, including winning supreme dairy at the South of England show, which is based on production index as well as confirmation, for the last three years running.
“Judges said that she has a near perfect rump structure and top line, with an udder that is out of this world with incredible venation,” said Charlie Moody from Designer Holsteins. “She has also been classified Ex95 this year which is a really good score and we are hoping to take her to the Edenbridge and Oxted show at the end of August.”
Continuing their show success, Barwood and Padfield from Norfolk took the supreme beef champion with Burnbank Jenny and reserve champion with Bedgebury Legend. Last year the four-year-old cow, Burnbank Jenny, was interbreed champion at 13 shows across the country and, alongside Kent, she has continued her winning streak so far this year at Newark, Suffolk, South of England and Lincoln.
“Burnbank Jenny will be going to six more shows before a well-earned rest,” said owner Anita Padfield. “Judges have said she is a superb example of the breed with great character, show ring presence and a super calf at foot.”
Tastiest cherry and soft fruit
The Taste of Kent Awards 2019, organised by Produced in Kent, also kicked off at the show, with the first category, the Garden of England champion tastiest soft fruit and cherry awards being judged on the Friday at the National Cherry and Soft Fruit Show.
Judged on taste alone by both professionals from the industry and members of the public the winning varieties and growers for this year saw Brian Piper of Filmers Farm, Loose take the tastiest cherry award for his Carmen cherries. John Myatt and Co at Mockbegger Farm, Rochester, was awarded best tasting strawberry with the Magnum variety and the tastiest raspberry was awarded to Total World Fruit with the variety Ovation.
For the first time, Blackberries were also judged to highlight a change to the soft fruit sector as their popularity increases. The winner was John Myatt and Co at Mockbegger Farm, Rochester with the variety Incentive.
In the National Cherry and Soft Fruit Show, Elverton Farms were awarded the prize for the most meritorious exhibit of cherries, the best exhibit of cherries and received the highest number of points across all classes. Hugh Lowe Farms were awarded the most meritorious exhibit of soft fruit, B. R. Brooks and Sons took the prize for the best exhibit of strawberries and Clockhouse Farm won the best exhibit of raspberries.
Mood of the nation
At this year’s Kent county show, the overall standard of the equine competitions was also outstanding with all the show rings hosting a full programme. HM The Queen had success with her horses, receiving first in the heavyweight show hunter, champion young hunter and reserve champion in the cuddy horse of the year show qualifier.
One of the display highlights of the show was the Household Cavalry musical ride, which performed twice a day on all three show days. This incredible display tapped in to the mood of the nation and the display received huge cheers during and after each performance.
“We have had a wonderful 2018 show; the showground looked stunning, visitors were happy and glorious sunshine helped to create a buoyant atmosphere,” said KCAS president Lord Colgrain. “The Household Cavalry was outstanding, and it was fitting that the society chairman Kevin Attwood took the final salute. Kevin will be ending his six-year term as chairman in February 2019. He has steered the society with professionalism, courage and enthusiasm and we are all indebted to his firm leadership and passion, he will be missed.”
Next year the Kent County Agricultural Society will be celebrating its 90th show, which is to be held from Friday 5 July till Sunday 7 July 2019.