Flower Show And Fête
A major event in the Orford calendar, is the annual Orford, Sudbourne & Gedgrave Flower Show and Fête, held usually, on the Saturday of the August Bank holiday. The Show marquee houses almost 200 exhibits of locally grown vegetables, fruit and flowers exhibited under exacting Flower Show Rules. Handicrafts, cooking, painting, photography and other talents are also included in the competitions with the extremes of the heaviest marrow, pumpkin etc. and the longest parsnip and runner bean, provide a major interest for both growers and novelty for visitors. Modest cash prizes as well as cups, trophies and certificates are keenly contested.
Whilst produce, art and fine handicrafts form the focal point of the Show, the Fete provides a first–class afternoon out for all the family. Bouncy Castle, Punch and Judy, Coconut Shy and many other side-shows attract children and adults of all ages.
Children’s races, some with parents are a popular draw, but perhaps the biggest attraction is the famous Orford Dog Race. Rules for this event are liberally interpreted with classes for small and large dogs.
The ‘hounds’ are lined up by their owners, given a juicy bone to sniff which they chase over a short course. The spectacle of mixed breeds, some keen, some totally uninterested and some whose interest wanders in other directions, makes this exciting contest a fitting finale to the Fête.
Although the paper records of the Orford and Gedgrave Horticultural Society (which organises the show) go back only to the 1930’s, the Orford Flower Show “like many others” probably has its origins in the 19th century. The Lords Hertford of Sudbourne Hall owned a vast agricultural and sporting estate of over 11,000 acres and several villages including Orford. In 1871, Sir Richard Wallace the illegitimate son of the fourth Marquis of Hertford purchased the Sudbourne Hall estate from his half-brother the fifth Marquis. In the 1880’s, Sir Richard procured a private Act of Parliament giving him the right to enclose common land in the village of Orford. In return, Sir Richard was obliged to give the village a recreation ground – which to his credit he did. This has provided the Flower Show with a permanent site ever since.
The great 19th century land owners, such as the Hertfords and Sir Richard Wallace, promoted Flower and Produce shows to encourage improvement in horticultural practice and self-sufficiency among the rural poor. The shows were intentionally competitive. Local horticultural societies were formed to manage the Show following the lead of the Royal Horticultural Society that had been founded in 1804.
There was also a connection with the allotment movement. In the early days of the Show, there was an emphasis on the produce that was grown on the allotments around the village. The interest of the organisers extended to small – scale husbandry. Even up to the 1960’s, local people who qualified for the cottage classes could enter their eggs into the Show.
The Show was probably abandoned in the First World War which is why the minutes of the organising committee start in the 1920‘s. The same happened in the Second World War. After the war ended a local resident Winifred Fison revived the Show and ran it until her death in 1982 ably assisted by local people including Peter Ashley and Spinney Bantoft.
Over the last 25 years or so, the Show has diversified into such areas as painting, photography and the dog races. The fete has been expanded with colourful stalls, games and sideshows. The organisers have taken a deliberate decision to retain the spirit of a village show and keep out commercial interests whilst providing a “platform” for local charities and interest groups. The real history of the Show is in the lists of cup winners over the years.
Long may that continue.
Flower Show News
Growing for showing...and making and baking!
The Flower Show and The Gardening Club invite you to a Q & A evening hosted by Jan Lovell, Secretary of SHAPA – Suffolk Horticultural And Produce Association.
SHAPA was originally founded as the Village Produce Association in 1941 to support the war effort when people were encouraged to ‘dig for victory’. It's main role now is to support it's member horticultural societies across Suffolk. Jan will be taking and answering questions relating to the 2019 show schedule, giving advice and tips for newcomers and experienced competitors alike, to help them create the best impression on the showbench. It is often the quality of presentation that can make the difference between first and second, but the taking part is just as important, so this talk is open to all.
FREE SEEDS! We will also be giving away a limited number of packets of seeds so come and join us on Thursday 21th February 2019 at 7.30pm in the back room of the Town Hall, free entry. Advance schedules will be available from the end of January at the newspaper kiosk and Village Stores.
Alex Smith, Flower Show
Polly Sharkey, Gardening Club
Summary accounts for the year end 31 October 2018
Gate Receipts 2,008.87
Side shows, exhibitor fees, other 1,040.94
Total income 9,197.71
Marquee hire 1,902.60
Printing, postage 937.40
Total expenses 6,848.77
Surplus for the year 2,348.94
Bank account 30/10/17 10,054.85
Bank account 30/10/18 12,403.79
These accounts have now been audited by the independent examiner.
Of the surplus generated this year, the committee is proposing to donate £1,250 to projects for the benefit of the community, which will leave a free surplus to be carried forward of £11,153.79.