Sun shines as government minister drops in for New Forest Show ‘locals day’

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New Forest Show
Lord Gardner (left) with former New Forest Show chair Chris Whitlock

THE New Forest Show ground was busier this morning (Wednesday) with crowds queuing at the main entrance to make the most of the promised sunshine on what is traditionally known as “locals’ day”.

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New Forest Pony classes were underway in the main ring, with a good turn-out of locally- bred ponies competing for the top prizes.

Defra minister Lord Gardiner arrived at the show ground this morning, beginning a tour of the site with a visit to the NFU stand and the poultry tent.

He told the A&T: “This show is a wonderful example of the countryside and rural life. This is my third visit to the New Forest Show and I am always enormously impressed by the wonderful volunteers who give up their time to enable others to learn about the countryside.

“These shows are so important in our calendar – because they enable people to see at close quarters the wonderful livestock and agricultural heritage of this beautiful part of the world.”

Turning to the issue of a potential no-deal Brexit, Lord Gardiner said he would be meeting with as many people as possible to reassure them about the work being undertaken by the government to safeguard the interests of farming and agriculture.

Describing British produce as “the “best in the world”, he said UK agriculture and horticulture had a great future, not only trading with our “European friends” but with new markets around the world.

Later today the Defra minister will judge the supreme beef championship in the cattle rings and present a series of prizes for long-serving forestry workers and commoners in the main ring.

New Forest Show
Heavy horse on display at the New Forest Show

Meanwhile, in the local food and farming area, Masterchef winner Jane Devonshire will be cooking up some tasty dishes in the demonstration kitchen at 1.30pm, with other top chefs from local restaurants also sharing their culinary tips throughout the day.

Show conditions were described as “ideal” by spokesperson Sophie Stannett, who told the A&T: “Considering the weather yesterday, we are very pleased with the ground conditions.

“Although we had heavy rain at intervals throughout yesterday everyone seemed to be having a good time – and the sun did even appear a few times in the afternoon.

“Crowd numbers are definitely up today and the forecast is looking ideal for us.”

The popular heavy horse musical drive will be today’s main ring attraction at 3.30pm, when 16 pairs of heavy horses will criss-cross to music.

Other highlights will include the Old Time Farming Parade, when vintage vehicles will be brought into the main ring, concluding with a tug of war between a veteran tractor and youngsters from the crowd.

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