80,000 visit Kent County Show despite M20 crash
PUBLISHED: 08:33 12 July 2017
The motorway was closed throughout the morning on the opening day of the show
Some 80,000 people visited the Kent County Show last weekend, despite a serious crash on the motorway leading to the site.
The M20 was closed London-bound on the first day of the show, and did not re-open until the early afternoon.
While numbers were down on the previous year, bosses admitted they didn’t expect to attract as many as as 80,000 to what has become one of the key events in the county’s calendar.
Lucy Hegarty, show manager said: “We knew that Friday was going to be a challenge for people to get to us when we heard that the motorway had been closed due to a serious accident.”
The Kent County Agricultural Society, organisers, were keen to ensure that animal safety and welfare was key during three very warm days.
The Grand Parade of Livestock was cancelled on the first day and the vets on site worked hard to ensure that animals were kept cool.
The slighter cooler weather on Saturday and Sunday morning resulted in a more comfortable temperature for all the livestock on site.
Headlining the entertainment this year was The Shetland Pony Grand National which captivated the crowds in the main ring.
The grandstands were full on all three days when the young riders, aged between eight and 13, started their races on pint-sized ponies - which is how some of the country’s racing legends started their careers.
Bosses said the Grand Prix Show Jumping which moved to Saturday was a thrilling competition with Robert Whitaker taking the first prize of £3,000 and second place as well.
Two new classes were added to the Show Jumping which almost doubled the number of entries this year to 297.
Livestock entries saw a significant increase in 2017 and this ensured that visitors were able to see more competitions and enjoy a greater number of animals, particularly in the sheep area with the highest number of entries since 2007.
Cattle entries were the highest since 2012 with Folkestone based, J Warnock winning Supreme Dairy Champion and Barwood & Padfield from Norfolk winning Supreme Beef Champion.
Ms Hegarty added: “The increased livestock entries, fantastic show weather, wonderful displays and demonstrations gave this year’s show a really vibrant atmosphere and we were also delighted to report,
in spite of visitor numbers, no problems with the traffic flow and car parking.
“The new Food Hall had a few teething problems which will be looked at for next year with the help of exhibitor feedback.
“Whenever there is a large change to the layout it takes a few years for everyone to get used to the revisions. The footfall for our trade exhibitors is something we take very seriously”.
Elsewhere on the Showground the new Garden Life marquee proved very popular with visitors able to see Kent Beekeepers, Kent Federation of Horticultural Societies, Flower Show exhibitors, floral art competitions and the Garden Cafe in one large marquee.
The T-Rex Show, Titan the Robot, Punch and Judy and Mr & Mrs Flora captivated audiences whenever they performed as did the ever popular Sheep Show, Dog and Duck Display and Birds of Prey.
The BBC Radio Kent, World Record Salsa Dance Lesson, attempt on Saturday was not successful but everyone that joined Strictly Come Dancing male professional, AJ Pritchard seemed to enjoy themselves.
Kevin Attwood, chairman, said: “We are thrilled with this year’s show, the showground looked wonderful, visitors were happy and glorious sunshine helped to swell visitor numbers.
“The Trade Stands this year were exceptional with many of them offering wonderful activities especially for younger visitors.
“This gave the show a real family feel and everywhere you looked you could see how much fun people were having.
“In particular we are grateful to the agricultural machinery stands that brought their equipment up to the show this year, the displays in the area were exceedingly well received by visitors who were fascinated by the technology and innovation that modern farmers use.”
The 2018 show will be held between Friday, July 6 and Sunday, July 8.