PUBLISHED: 06:05 12 May 2014
The first Norfolk Show was held in 1847, and in 1908 the association was granted the Royal prefix by King Edward VII.
In 1952, following more than 70 years of holding shows annually – and for a period twice yearly – at a number of locations across the county, the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) purchased from Lord Stafford a 350-acre piece of land at Costessey, on the outskirts of Norwich, to create a permanent showground. After a couple of years for preparation, in 1954 the first Royal Norfolk Show was held at the site with Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother as president.
During her visit, the Queen Mother inspected shire horses as part of her tour in the judging ring, watched a basket-making demonstration, visited the flower show and took the time to speak to members of the Young Farmers’ Club. To commemorate her visit, the Queen Mother planted a red oak tree on the lawn of the Royal Pavilion, which is still present today.
The two-day show held in 1954 was attended by 65,000 people and featured many attractions and events, including sheep-shearing demonstrations, horse-shoeing competitions, pigeon shows, cattle classes and an exhibition by the Norfolk Rural Industries Committee, which showcased a number of different forms of craftsmanship.
Up to date
Sixty years on and following significant investment in the now almost 400-acre site, the Royal Norfolk Show is the country’s largest outdoor two-day agricultural event, and one of only seven Royal shows held in the UK. It is Norfolk’s largest annual business and social event, and hosting about 90,000 visitors over the two days and celebrating the very best of Norfolk’s food, farming and countryside.
Today, the Norfolk Showground is also widely regarded as one of the region’s top indoor and outdoor venues, hosting more than 100 events and attracting over 350,000 visitors each year.
“Our 60th show at the showground is a real achievement and a milestone we are extremely proud to reach,” says Greg Smith, chief executive of the RNAA.
“The past six decades have seen a host of incredible shows, an enviable line-up of equine and livestock competitions attracting entries from across the country, a highly acclaimed Grand Ring programme, and the biggest showcase for Norfolk’s vibrant agricultural business community. We are also privileged to have enjoyed the support of many members of the Royal Family, including The Queen, who was president in 1986.”
The changing face of rural Norfolk and its agricultural economy has always been represented at the show, however today visitors can engage with all elements of the countryside too including Norfolk’s finest local food produce, arts and crafts, high-street labels, national and regional brands, and in more recent years a big emphasis on education.
Greg continues: “The heart of the Royal Norfolk Show continues to celebrate Norfolk’s agricultural industry, but over the past 60 years the show has evolved to become the ultimate great day out. We are very proud of this, but equally conscious of the need to keep the balance of the show just right – something that Julian Taylor, our show director, and the whole team focus on relentlessly.
“The 60th show is set to be one of our best yet with all the usual favourites as well as some brand new attractions and a few surprises too.”
The Royal Norfolk Show is being held on Wednesday, June 25, and Thursday, June 26. Advance tickets can be bought now from the Royal Norfolk Show website www.royalnorfolkshow.co.uk. From mid-May tickets will go on sale in retail outlets across Norfolk, including supermarkets and Tourist Information Centres, and there is a ticket offer locator tool on the show’s website to help people find their nearest outlet.
Advance adult tickets cost £19, children £7 (under-fives are free) and family tickets (two adults and three children aged 5-16) are £50. A range of concessions are also available. Advance car parking costs £6 per vehicle. There are discounts for schools and groups that purchase tickets in advance and it is recommended to contact the Royal Norfolk Show team for full details.
About the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association
The Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) is a registered charity which aims to help educate young people and adults, and to bring people and business together through a range of inspiring events to promote a better understanding of food, farming and the countryside. With the funds it generates, the RNAA annually supports its charitable aims through an extensive educational outreach programme and by making grants and donations to agricultural projects and related organisations around Norfolk. For more information on the RNAA visit ww.royalnorfolkshow.co.uk/rnaa-charity/the-rnaa/who-we-are-what-we-do