9.00am I walk through the allotment then round the corner to arrive at the Sports and Social Club where it’s already busy with committee members, helpers and a few exhibitors unloading vehicles. Inside the tables are covered in black cloths so that 125 class labels and well over 400 entry cards can be laid out.On the left is Ron, committee member, and to the right John, show committee member, who are also both keen exhibitors. Christine, the show secretary, asks if I’d like to be a steward, tells me what is involved and I say that I’d be more than happy to oblige.
10.30am There are lots more people now as all exhibits have to be staged by 11.45am. The tables are becoming covered with vegetables, fruit and flowers in an abundance 0f colours, shapes and sizes. Here’s a view of the tomato entries.
12.00am The hall has now been now cleared for judging. I’m with Peter, an old hand at stewarding, and we accompany the vegetables judge. Once he’s reached his decisions and noted them on the entry cards we label them accordingly and also note them on a form that’s later used to enable the certificates to be printed ready for the prize giving later on. It has proved most enlightening seeing the judge at work, with Peter clarifying and pointing out various details. I’m sure that this will be most useful to me next year when I hope to enter a few exhibits.
1.30pm The judging is all done and we adjourn for lunch. A sumptuous buffet has been done by Barbara, a show committee member. As I’m a growing lad I have seconds, and even thirds! We all relax and chat light-heartedly.
2.30pm The doors are opened to the public. The first people to enter are several anxious looking exhibitors hurrying to see if they’re prize winners, whilst others are far more easy going. The hall gradually fills up and as I walk round it’s all…hello…well done…hard luck…have you seen…look at that…if only the weather…next year…
I stop at the tombola stand, manned by Martin, to buy a few tickets.All the prizes are tickets ending in 0 or 5. Oh look…110…I’ve won something! It’s a packet of aster coloured carpet flower seeds and a soil pH testing kit. Don’t tell anyone but I rather fancied one of the cuddly toys!
A couple of people think that this dahliawhich was placed third is better than the ones judged first and second. I have to agree with them!
Someone says that society member/helper, and a show sponser, Dave has won the domestic class Rock cakes, 4 in number, MEN ONLY! That has us laughing, all the more so when his wife relates his exploits in the kitchen making them!
One of my favourite entries is in the children’s class A model animal made from one or more vegetables and accessories. It’s a cat made from a potato with a small sunflower face. I forget to take a photo, and don’t actually take many all day as I seem to be busy or chatting.
Perhaps the talking point of the day is Joe’s Italian squash which is on show but has not been entered as an exhibit.It’s the 3 1/2 foot long, 8 1/2 kg pale green vegetable. No one seems to know exactly what it is, and I even asked on the Allotments 4 All forum last week. The marrows in the picture are for the heaviest class, and I was right when I guessed that Joe’s (top left) at well over 9 kg was just a few grams heavier than John’s (top right).
3.45pm The alderman of the borough presents the cups and prizes.Plenty of the vegetable ones go to Joe and John, whilst Graham is king of the dahlias as usual. Along with all the other winners they receive their prizes to well earned applause.
4.15pm It’s time to start removing the exhibits, including the pumpkins.
5.00pm The hall is empty and that’s it for another year. Several committee members, show committee members and myself go into the bar for a drink or two, which in my case is a glass of lemonade. They all say it was a really good day which went well, and that it’s the best year yet.
7.00pm I’m home, shoes off and kettle boiling for a cup of tea. It’s been a long, tiring day but one which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m already looking forward to next year when I’ll be happy to help out, be a steward again, hopefully enter a few exhibits and just possibly be among the prize winners!
Footnote It should be remembered that it’s thanks to everyone who grows, or makes, then enters the exhibits, the small number of dedicated show committee members, helpers and people just visiting for a look round that the show is actually being held. Well done everybody I applaud you all! Above all it’s enjoyable, and great fun, so if you don’t already then why not support your local event next time.