Bike stunts and meerkats and ferrets- it must be the Edenbridge & Oxted Show

By Kevin Black in Farming

There’s no shortage of fun with The Shetland Pony Grand National, tunnel-racing between children and ferrets and national champions performing BMX and Mountain Bike stunts at this year’s Edenbridge and Oxted Agricultural Show on August 27-28.

Any number of children can visit for free with one adult ticket holder in their party to the annual Bank Holiday weekend show off the A22 at Ardenrun in Tandridge Lane, near Lingfield.

There’s a Children’s Cookalong with a CBeebies chef – just turn up and take part. Watch a new main ring knockout showjumping competition with two riders competing simultaneously on separate courses. Learn rural skills including Coppicing and watch Blacksmiths at work in the farriery specially setup at the Show. Hold giant snakes, hissing scorpions and hairy spiders and visit the Meerkat Enclosure and earn more about these amusing creatures. Take part in Morris Dancing workshops run by Royal Liberty Morris. The NFU is bringing its brand new Discovery Barn with games, challenges and giveaways to excite and teach the children about where their food comes from.

Animals are at the heart of the 180th community Show - meet alpacas, bats, Bearded Dragon, bees, cattle, chinchillas dogs, donkeys, falcons, ferrets, goats, guinea pigs, hawks, horses, llama, meerkats, mules, owls, pigs, ponies, poultry, rabbits, scorpions, sheep, snakes and spiders. Have a picture taken with The Flowerpot Men live statues. If someone has been wanting to try archery then this is a chance to do that within the family day out. Or try fly fishing, clay shooting, the giant wheel, the climbing wall, the Bucking Bull and the funfair. See historic vehicles, watch falconry displays, visit the horticultural, regional foods and “Keep it Local” crafts marquees . Bring your canine friends to take part in the Dog Show (Mon). Membership packages and reduced price advance tickets are available at www.edenbridge-show.co.uk

Advance ticket holders, including earlybird saver ticket holders and members, will be fast-tracked through the ticket queues. All under 16s go free with an adult ticket holder in the party. Details of reduced price tickets and membership packages are at www.edenbridge-show.co.uk.

Meerkats are coming back to the Show after being such a hit with the visitors at their first appearance last year. Watch the Meerkat family interacting with each other and the handlers. Ask questions and take close up photos with these fascinating creatures. Also there is a wider range of exotic animals in the Interactive Animal Centre introduced last year. Visitors can hold, touch and be photographed with hairy spiders, massive snakes, hissing cockroaches, scary scorpions, beautiful barn owls, cuddly chinchillas, rabbits and guinea pigs and the magnificent Bearded Dragon – or you can just watch from a distance! The whole experience is free to visitors.

Beside the magnificent Food Marquee, an icon of the Show with unusual regional delicacies to eat or take home, will be for the first time a new Children’s Cookalong run by chefs who devise recipes for CBeebies cookery shows and really know what gets young cooks interested. Free half hour sessions will be taking place throughout the two day Show. Kate Morris and Sally Brown want to take children on a fast trip to Thailand to make and eat their tasty and colourful Mango Salad, just one of over 40 recipes in their latest book The World in My Kitchen – a book designed to take children aged from 5-12 yr old away to far flung places around the world by recreating the smells and flavours of some of the traditional dishes from countries as diverse as Finland and China. “Smell Training” will be offered to children who drop in to meet them, testing their noses blind on ingredients used in The World in My Kitchen to see if they have a good nose.

There will be a daily competition to find who can ride the Bucking Bull for the longest. £70 per day is the prize for the person who can hang on and beat the other visitors that day on one of the Show’s many new attractions. It is free to have a go and the Bucking Bull can be found near the Livestock marquee and the Stockman Beer and Food tent, south of the main ring.

On Bank Holiday Monday the Country Sports area hosts the Exemption Dog Show with Pedigree and Novelty classes and Terrier Racing and the Working Terrier Show. Also in the Country Sports area all weekend is a chance to try out Archery, Fly fishing, Clay Shooting, and enjoy the Dog Agility and Obedience events. Bring your dog along to take part. There are also Gun Dog demonstrations and wrought iron-working and horse-shoeing competitions in the working blacksmith’s area. That is a rare sight not often seen now by the general public in everyday life.

There is so much for children to do including children’s crafts and gardening competitions – and all are free as well. There is a Games Arena where families can play giant outdoor and board games for free. In the livestock section there are free breed booklets to learn about the different breeds, a have-a-go milking machine and a wonderful chance for families to see animals large and small .

There are over 1,000 horses, ponies and donkeys from Thelwells to Shires taking part in over 100 different classes ranging from beginners’ classes to Horse of the Year Show qualifiers. There are six competition rings spread around the 140 acre showground with the main ring providing entertainment for the family as well as exciting competition classes. A visit to the purpose-built Heavy Horse Village is recommended for a close-up look at preparations for showtime.

This year’s non-stop main ring programme includes The Ardenrun Challenge. On both days teams with dogs and horses will compete to build and go over obstacles showing how well people and animals can work together.  The winner will show ingenuity and build the greatest team spirit and the relays will be a fast and furious spectacle for all the family to enjoy. 

 On Sunday August 27 the main ring programme includes Horse of the Year Show qualifier competitions, the Riding Horse and Hackney Championships, a wonderful display of teams and pairs of Heavy Horses pulling trade and agricultural carts and carriages, a cavalcade of footpacks, the first race in the Shetland Pony Grand National at 11.40am followed by two costume features – the beautiful Side Saddle Concours d’Elegance and the charming children’s Mounted Fancy Dress Parade. The afternoon brings exciting show jumping , the Osborne Double Harness Scurry Championship, the team obstacle race – the Ardenrun Challenge, the second appearance of those mini jockeys in the Shetland Pony Grand National at 4pm and then there is a brand new feature – the Parade of Livestock which shows off all the fantastic entries from this huge section of the Show. Senior 1.30m Open Show Jumping rounds off the first day.

Bank Holiday Monday includes a morning of Horse of the Year Show qualifying competitions including Ladies Side Saddle, the Ardenrun Challenge obstacle race, the amazing and amusing Shetland Pony Grand National at 11.05am, vintage farm machinery , a cavalcade of foxhounds and at 12.40pm don’t miss the spectacular four in hand carriages and coaches – an impressive sight for all the family to enjoy. After lunch is a sight of a bygone era – Heavy Horse trade and agricultural carts then the Shire Championship with a parade of magnificent Heavy Horses. The brand new Harwoods Land Rover Knock Out Show Jumping takes place for the first time at 2pm and that promises to be a thrilling spectacle as two riders compete against each other on two separate courses. Those champion jockeys of the future have one last chance to win the qualifying round of the Shetland Pony Grand National at 3.15pm. The visitors’ favourite moment and one repeated over the history of the Show which started in 1837 is the Grand Parade of Livestock, including the biggest gathering of cattle in Southern Britain. This finale takes place at 3.45pm followed by the presentation of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trophy and the Supreme Ridden Horse Championship. The Show ends with nail-biting Show Jumping, scheduled for 4.50pm.

For the gardener or small-holder, or those who just want to learn more, there are experts on hand to talk about keeping bees, geese, goats, hens, pigs and sheep with some of the finest animals on display to admire, compare and, in some cases, buy. There are also specialist equipment outlets. The massive Horticultural Marquee has national and regional growers and associations; take the chance to escape the frenzy of an action-packed showground and talk one on one with the experts to pick up tips and plants. Visitors should make sure they see the gigantic and perfectly-formed vegetables in the competition area. Also definitely worth a look is the children’s section of the horticultural display. These free-to-enter fun classes were introduced recently and the standard has been very high – the schedule has details at www.edenbridge-show.co.uk/competing/horticultural. This year the young persons’ classes include an insect made out of any medium and the theme of a Superhero for the item made out of fruit and/or vegetables. Local children are encouraged to visit the website and find out about taking part and everyone is recommended to come and see their amazing efforts. Also fun to check out are the Novelty classes – the Giant Vegetable competition and the Wonky Vegetable Competition.

Also in the Horticultural section, the recently-introduced “Plot to Plate” classes ,inspired by The Big Allotment Challenge TV programme, are proving popular and have been producing some delicious entries. These classes give anyone in the community the chance not just to show off their fruit and veg grown in their garden, allotment or even window box but also what they can make with them. Each class requires them to show their produce in its natural form, then a chutney, pickle or preserve made from what they have grown and finally a baked item including that home grown fruit or vegetable. These classes are aimed to encourage keen gardeners who might not necessarily have thought about showing their produce in a competition. Details of how to enter are on the website and even if you don’t enter this year make sure you don’t miss the Horticultural Marquee for inspiration and gardening tips. Mentioned in exit surveys so often as a favourite part of the Show, the massive Horticultural Marquee is a cool and calm treat for the senses with the perfect fragrant flowers, the huge vegetables, and the amazing displays.

When the family needs a rest from all the excitement and activities there are plenty of catering facilities to enjoy including the Food Hall with unusual local and regional foods to eat at the Show or take home to enjoy. There is a family picnic area and also beer tents, lemonade and strawberry stalls and fresh hot food outlets. Meanwhile there is a brand new line up of live bands to serenade you from the bandstand in the refreshments area with a variety of music. As ever you will spot the one-man-band around the showground during the two days.

The huge historic and vintage vehicle section has some beautiful examples of transport through the decades with proud owners ready to tell their tales. Admire the gleaming grandeur of sports cars from the age of elegance. This year marks the centenary of the first regular production tractors to be exported into the UK by Henry Ford and Sons. There will be a chance to look back with a large number of historic tractors to celebrate this anniversary, including many specialist machines from members of The South Eastern Vintage Agricultural Club and a parade in the Huntworth Main Arena on Bank Holiday Monday at 11.35am.

Admission rates are just £20 for adults, £16 for senior citizens and students and any number of under-sixteens are free this year with one adult ticket holder in the party . Car parking is free. Reduced price advance tickets (£18 adult and £14 concessions with under 16s free) are available until midnight on 13th August but visitors purchasing advance tickets after that date can still take advantage of the new fast track system at gates.

These tickets can be obtained in advance online at www.edenbridge-show.co.uk or at a high street outlet near you including Anthony Moore Dry Cleaners in Lingfield, Bradfords Household in Edenbridge, Martells of East Grinstead and Sutton, Mole Country Store at Redhill and White & Sons Estate Agents in Oxted.

A special bus service is run for those who are without transport or who have arrived by train. The bus will run from Lingfield Station to the Showground on both days half-hourly from 9am - 12.30pm, returning to Lingfield Station from 2 - 6.30pm.  This service is free to all local residents and visitors travelling by train. The Show Council has recently purchased a field adjoining the showground which will be used largely for extra free parking, useful at peak times as the community show becomes more and more popular.

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