AROUND 100,000 visitors are expected to take in the sights and sounds of next week’s New Forest Show, which this year celebrates its 99th anniversary.
The three-day spectacular is set to start on Tuesday at Brockenhurst’s New Park, and will boast a busy programme featuring everything from kids’ cookery and art demonstrations to countryside activities and showjumping events.
The weather is expected to be kind, with no rain forecast and comfortable highs of about 23C.
The New Forest Show remains the only place spectators can watch 16 pairs of heavy horses criss-cross and circle to musical themes during the Heavy Horse Musical Drive – this year’s headline attraction. It was first started in the 1950s by Colonel Mike Ansell who decided Horse of The Year Show audiences should be treated to a spectacle while the ground was being harrowed between showjumping classes. Instead of tractors, which traditionally evened out the surface after each class, Ansell came up with the idea of using teams of heavy horses as they circled the arena to music.
This year’s event will also mark the return of the Pony Club Mounted Games which involves youngsters from various pony clubs going head to head for a series of challenges.
Another popular highlight is the daily grand parade of prize-winning cattle and sheep which takes place at 3pm when champions and other significant winners are presented with their trophies and prizes.
Meanwhile, there will be plenty for youngsters to do with meet-the-hounds sessions in the main arena, a tug-of-war with a vintage tractor, and dozens of contests and hands-on-activities around the show ground.
New this year will be a live music stage showcasing local artists and bands who will be performing between 11am and 6.30pm each day. Meanwhile the canine arena timetable will feature a variety of acts and displays including dog behaviourists, flyball competitions and the popular dog and duck display. There will also be a fun dog show for visitors at 11.45am and 3.30pm each day with class entry charged at £1 and on-the-day sign-up available.
Gardening enthusiasts will be able to enjoy a range of horticultural delights from enchanted wildflower meadows to designer show pieces.
Billed as Hampshire’s answer to Chelsea Flower Show, visitors can admire a stunning array of flower arrangements and sweet pea blooms, as well as viewing some gigantic vegetables in the National Vegetable Championships.
This year the show’s traditional livestock section is another popular highlight with organisers reporting record entries in the sheep and poultry sections.
The sheep section has received more than 1,300 entries this year breaking a previous record set in 2013. The breeds include Hampshire down, Suffolk, black Welsh mountain, southdown and portland.
Show administrator Jenny Dolbear said “At the very heart of every agricultural show are the livestock and we are extremely proud to have the largest number of sheep entries ever.
“With over 30 different breeds of sheep we are set for great competitions throughout the section.
In addition, the livestock section will be welcoming a good number of dairy cattle on Tuesday with beef cattle arriving on Wednesday and Thursday as they all compete to become supreme champion.
Now in its third year the Bake and Cake competition continues to grow in popularity, receiving more than 200 entries in various classes including cakes, pastries, yeast cookery, preserves as well as junior classes. The tent is also home to the popular Fun Kitchen which delivers free 45-minute cooking
workshops for children.
Equestrian fans will be spoilt for choice, with international showjumping, scurry racing and other horse classes filling the North and South Rings.
There will be an area hosted by the Forestry Commission focusing on a range of countryside activities, and the national park will have a large stand in the heart of the Forest section.
Longdown Activity Farm will return with its popular show farm, where youngsters can meet a range of animals including goats and geese, and handle rabbits and tiny day-old chicks.
New Forest Marque producers will be showcasing their wares in the popular local food and
farming area, where there will be regular cooking demonstrations, tasting sessions and farm animals on display. There will also be free food tasting and a chance to meet local growers and producers.
Some of Hampshire’s top chefs will be sharing their secrets and tips in the cookery
demonstration area, and visitors with a sweeter tooth should head over to the bees and honey tent where, as well as sampling the best local honey, they will also be able try out crafts and learn more about beekeeping.
More than 50 amateur and professional artists from the New Forest Art Pavilion will come together to display over 300 pictures and sculptures, and there will also be regular demonstrations of pottery, painting and wood crafts.
Nearby, the New Forest Trust will be running a fine-crafted wood exhibition featuring bespoke pieces created by professional furniture makers and students.
A display of vintage farming machinery looks set to be a popular attraction, and will include stream machines, threshers, rollers and grinders, giving the public an insight into farming life in days gone by. Every afternoon there will be a parade of ‘old verses new’ in the main ring.
The New Forest Fun Factory will be hosting a packed schedule of entertainment from local choirs, dance academies, circus workshops and clumsy clowns.
The ever popular Countryside Area will have displays ranging from falcons and gun dogs to terriers and ferret racing.
Opportunities for retail therapy will also be plentiful with more than 600 trade stands selling everything from luxury cars and hot tubs to local arts and crafts, farm machinery and fashion items.
Show tickets per day are £21 for adults and £1 for children, with all proceeds from child tickets sales donated towards the Samantha and Florence Bailey Bursary.
The show ground opens at 8.15am each day and visitors are urged to come early to beat the traffic or travel by train. Shuttle buses will be running between the show ground and Brockenhurst railway station.