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
Return of the Flower Show Saturday 28th August
2021 Flower Show Update
Preparations for the Flower Show are moving ahead and we have scheduled Saturday 28th August for the show to return to the Orford Recreation Ground. There are two unknowns, firstly the weather, about which we can do nothing, and secondly the state of the virus in the country. We don’t know what the rate of infections will be by end August, but we can make preparations to minimise risks to attendees.
All the scientific advice suggests the risk of transmission of the virus in the open air is limited; the weak link in the Show is the marquee where a closed environment with lots of people would potentially be an environment to spread the virus. Given that it is not practical to have the sides of the marquee open (any significant wind would play havoc with the displays and cards), we have decided to proceed as follows.
*numbers entering the marquee will be monitored, and when enough have entered at any one time, people will be asked to wait a while until others have left the marquee. With a little patience all round, we can all see the displays in comfort.
* Everyone entering the marquee to bring entries in the morning or later in the afternoon to see the displays will be required to wear a mask. This is to help prevent any problem, and give peace of mind to people coming into the marquee.
*There will be a one-way system around the marquee to view the exhibits.
Other issues. All entry forms submitted before the day will not attract a fee as before. This is to encourage submission of the forms early to reduce the crunch of processing the forms on the morning of the show. Deposit boxes for the forms will be in the shop and newspaper kiosk. Entry forms submitted on the day, will incur a charge of 50p each.
Volunteers, we still need them. If you can help on the day before with setting up or on the day itself, even for an hour, please contact Alex Smith on 01394 459732 or Gary Wingrove on 01394 459875.
We are arranging another Tombola stall, and collections of items for the stall will be organised nearer the time. Bottles of liquid sustenance are always popular, and this is an opportunity to empty the cupboards of those unwanted Christmas presents still in their original packaging.
A reminder about bringing some cash. Many of us have become used to operating on a cashless basis, and we won’t have the facility to handle card payments, although we shall try to set this up for the Tombola.
Lastly, in last month’s issue, we gave the incorrect bank details for BACS transfers. The correct name of the account (with apologies to would-be contributors from Sudbourne) is “The Orford and Gedgrave Horticultural Society”. Sort code 20-98-07 and account number 80675962 were correct. The good news is that there is still plenty of time to sign up as a Friend of the Show with a suitable contribution.
Let’s hope for the return of a fun day for everyone.
Flower Show Committee
Class list 2021