An insider's guide to Surrey County Show 2017 in Guildford
PUBLISHED: 10:14 22 May 2017 | UPDATED: 10:14 22 May 2017
Bringing rural life to the heart of Guildford, Surrey County Show is a vibrant mix of farming, food and drink, shopping and more. Matthew Williams shines a spotlight on what you can expect
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine May 2017
Need to know…
What? Surrey County Show
Where? Stoke Park, Guildford, Surrey GU1 1TU
When? Bank Holiday Monday May 29, 8am to 6pm
How much? (on the gate) adult, £17; children, £6; and family, £40
More rural diary dates: The Surrey Agricultural Society also hosts the Surrey Farm, Food & Drink Festival from Sunday August 27 to Saturday September 2 and the Surrey Game & Country Fair on Sunday September 24.
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A brief history…
In 1954, Raymond Stovold of Shackleford’s Lydling Farm brought together the Surrey Agricultural Association (founded in 1829) and the Redhill Agricultural Society (founded in 1862) for a joint show at Eashing Park and was responsible for bringing the two societies together under the present title. The Stovold family themselves have some pedigree, with over 400 years’ experience of farming in Surrey. The event moved to its present site, Stoke Park in Guildford, in 1961 and has been there ever since. These days, Surrey County Show is known as the biggest one¬day agricultural show in the UK, welcoming around 40,000 visitors each year.
Despite being held in Guildford, rural life is still at the show’s heart – and with that comes cavalcades of animals. Among the thousand or so cows, sheep, pigs, goats, horses and donkeys, you’ll be able to meet huge Highland bulls and dainty Jersey heifers in the cattle tent, black Zwartbles and a crinkled Texel in the sheep lines, dairy and pygmy goats, and you can cheer the entries in the ‘grumpiest pig’ and ‘pig most like its handler’ competitions. In the centrepiece Grand Arena, there’s two show-jumping classes with national horse and rider combinations competing for a prize fund of over £6,000 – as well as the ever popular fast and furious scurry driving. Miller’s Ark Farm will also have a range of small, friendly animals for children to pet.
A dog’s life…
If you don’t happen to have a horse, cow or pig to compete at the show, you can always take your dog. All breeds and types are welcome, and there are classes for everyone. There will be dog agility, hounds and terrier racing, gun dog training and sheep dog trials throughout the day.
Shop ‘til you drop…
Away from the animals, Surrey County Show also happens to be a shopper’s paradise. Whether you are looking to buy or to browse, head for the neatly arranged and sign¬posted shopping malls, which sell everything from tractors and wellie boots to hot tubs and garden furniture.
For the foodies…
There’s a tempting offering for foodies, too. Chef Daniel Britten (The White Horse in Hascombe) returns to the food theatre line-up, as does butcher Simon Taylor (Surrey Hills Butchers in Oxshott) who is teaming up with Steve Drake (Sorrel in Dorking) this year. Bake with Jack, Butter and Cream and Dorking Brewery will also be taking to the stage. There’s also the Surrey Farmers’ Market, where all the food and drink sold has been grown, reared, caught, brewed, picked, pickled, baked, smoked and processed by the stall holders.
Surrey County Show regulars tell us what they most love about visiting
The brain’s behind Surrey Hills Butchers, Simon will be demonstrating with chef Steve Drake in the food theatre
“My favourite thing is the family presence – there’s something for everyone and it’s even better that it normally focuses around farming and educating people about all the different avenues surrounding that industry,” says Simon. “There’s a definite buzz about Surrey and particularly its food scene right now. In particular, I love going around sampling anything from ale to fudge.”
A professional photographer who has been working his way round our county for many years, Pete is an official show photographer
“I’ve been taking photos of the show for over 20 years and have only ever missed one,” says Pete. “I love the variety – and it’s great to see people really enjoying themselves. It adds up to a wonderful day out for me as I can indulge my passion for photographing people – and hopefully the sun will shine again this year.”
Owner of Bake with Jack. Jack will be demonstrating his baking skills and running a stall at the farmers’ market
“The diverse array of food stalls is always fantastic to see,” says Jack. “Going to the show is a great way to keep in touch with what is going on in the Surrey food world, and you always meet so many new people showcasing their produce and talents. I really love it for that. I can’t wait to demonstrate and hopefully help people to bake amazing bread at home.”
Tell us what you most love about Surrey County Show by tweeting us at @SurreyLife