Every summer, in the place where I grew up, an event takes place that’s delightfully quintessential of an English country village.
The local Gardening Association’s annual Summer Show sees gardeners and growers from Rudgwick, Ellens Green and the surrounding villages come together.
They’re exhibiting the very best of their garden produce from the year. It will be professionally judged and awarded, ahead of the afternoon show attended by hundreds of visitors from the local communities.
Anyone from the area can take part. It’s a delightfully traditional, rural celebration of our relationship with our gardens and the land – and the beautiful natural rewards that come from it.
But that’s not to say the competitive element isn’t very much present – and the gardeners take their displays very seriously indeed.
Potential prize winning products have been arranged with fastidious precision, awaiting the judges’ arrival.
Outside, set up has already begun for a family event that’s changed little since I first attended as a child 30 years ago.
On display in the main tent you can find fruit and vegetables, flower arrangements, jams, cakes, photography and knitwear – all awaiting the judging prior to the start of the show.
And whilst older gardeners have the opportunity to show off the fruits of their labour – younger gardeners are given different ways to be creative with their produce.
Exhibitors leave whilst judging takes place – it’s now a waiting game until the show opens in the afternoon.
The afternoon is here, and the visitors arrive.
Many are keen to know who’s won the Gardening Association’s seal of approval.
If you haven’t won this time, the chances are you’ll know who has – many of the villages’ residents enjoy being part of the close-knit communities.
It’s an event that’s remained faithful to a wonderful selection of tried-and-tested family favourites. Every year, outdoor activities include welly throwing…
…and a tug of war…
…with the chance for younger participants to show their strength too.
There’s also egg throwing…
…and plenty more traditional entertainments for the local families.
It’s not about the prize money – it’s the love of growing and creating. Prize money is just £1 for first prize, going down to 50p for third!
But you could spend some of your winnings at the local bric-a-brac.
This chap could have been yours for about £1, but you’re too late – he’d found a new home by the end of the day.
Never mind – maybe you’ll stumble across a long lost masterpiece amongst the jumble.
After prizes have been given out, the tents begin to be taken down as the stallholders leave.
It’s the end of a traditionally rural, and very British day out.