The Show “Must Go On”?

— Tidings, September 2018 —

For only the second time since 1943, there was no annual Produce Show this year in Geldeston.

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The good reason was that Geldeston Village Hall, our excellent venue these past seventy years and more,  is still receiving the finishing touches after extensive refurbishment and was not quite ready. “Bad” reasons were that gardeners had precious little to exhibit, even if cooks could have put on a show, and those running the event are getting a bit tired and would like some more help. It’s an opportunity, in other words, to stand back and rethink the way we do things.

Some changes to the rules, for instance, have already been made. Since 2013, each participant can only put exhibits in a maximum of eleven classes. So far this has reduced the overall number of exhibits. It does mean that entrants compete on quality and not just ensure victory through the overwhelming quantity of their exhibits.

We have seven cups to compete for, named after past years’ prize-winners, e.g. the Lilian Lane Cup for most points in the Household classes. The cups are worth winning, but who in 2018 wants a second-class prize of 40 new pence? (How much is a bag of seeds these days?)

Until recently we held a Garden Party, so people could sit, chat and drink tea in the open air, waiting for the Prize Awards and the Auction in the Hall. Now we have the Green in the heart of the village for Tea and Games. But what should we do with it? We can’t just be a poor relation of the always enjoyable Village Fete held in the same place every July.

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I inherited a love of this yearly event and a commitment to its organisation from my mother. My grandmother, Mrs G.M. (Molly) Crowfoot, was the first secretary of the Village Show committee in 1943. The chairwoman was Miss Mabel Pocock, who lived in Hill House. In 1946, both resigned: “The men are home”. In the 1950s Molly’s daughter Elisabeth, my mother, became the event’s guiding spirit for the next four decades.

Fifteen years ago, I became involved in planning and running the event. Ellingham and Kirby Cane had their own Produce Show until 1989. Why not open up participation to them as well? I suggested. Enter Mr Robert Brown, and others. Today a third of all entries to our show come from Kirby Cane, Ellingham and Gillingham.

Three generations …

a lot has changed in those 75 years. The Bungay Horticultural Society recently shut down. The Beccles Horticultural Society seems to have no more participants than we do. Perhaps, the Show has had its day. Any offers? Any suggestions?

John Crowfoot

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