History of the Village Show
The Village Show began its life in 1948 under a marquee on the Wickham Market playing field. It was part of an Annual Carnival weekend on the first August Bank Holiday, which took much preparation, including Mary Morris’s brother Ray acting as “security guard” by sleeping overnight in the marquee!
Through the years, its style has changed little, but the formula of people coming together and displaying their produce and crafts in friendly competition has remained the same. It is most of all a community event.
The very first Show in the Village Hall was a one day Show which took place on Monday, 7th August 1961, and was entitled “First Annual Horticultural Show”. The Schedule cost one shilling which included entrance to the Hall. Prizes were: 1s t Three shillings, 2nd Two shillings, and 3rd One shilling. A Challenge Cup was awarded to the competitor with the highest number of points. This was held for one year and the winner then received a replica. There was an interesting Class for children to enter entitled: “Largest Number of White Butterflies”. This encouraged the local children to catch what was obviously a pest to the local vegetable growers! Most of the Classes we have today were listed, except for “Floral Art” which was introduced in 1967.
By the end of the 60s, there were six Challenge Cups for the highest number of points in the various Classes and the prize money had gone up to five shillings for 1st, three shillings for 2nd and two shillings for 3rd. In 1965 the day was changed to a Saturday.
The Show prospered during the 70s and in 1975 was described as the “Wickham Market Playing Field Fete and Flower Show” by the local newspaper; and was said to be a “great success” attended by about 200 people. A list of all prize winners was also printed, in which Mr D. Stebbings was prominent in the vegetable section – some things don’t change! Rosemary Blewitt, daughter of Hazel, was a winner in several of the children’s classes.
In 1977, the prize money was increased to: 1st 50p, 2nd 25p and 3rd 15p!
In 1981 the title became “The Horticultural and Produce Show” and then in 1982 it changed to “The Annual Flower Show”. In 1984 the prize money increased again to: 1st 60p, 2nd 30p, and 3rd 20p.
In the 70s and 80s, the number of cups presented gradually increased until, by the end of the 80s, there were thirteen. It had become a two day event and adverts were appearing in the Schedule for local businesses, obviously providing helpful sponsorship. A photography section had also been added.
By 1991, the prize money was 1st 75p, 2nd 50p and 3rd 25p. Special prizes were starting to appear in some Sections, sponsored by local businesses or individuals: 1st £5, 2nd £3 and 3rd £2.
In the mid-nineties, prize money once again increased to 1st £1.50, 2nd £1.00 and 3rd 50p; and in 1997, “The Annual Flower Show” became “The Annual Show”, which it has been called ever since.
By the late nineties, Mr Brian Barley was Chairman of the Committee, and Mrs Pauline Barley was dealing with the Show Entries.
By the time the year 2000 arrived, 15 cups were being presented and there was a thriving Committee of eleven people. This consisted of: Mr Brian Barley (Chairman), Mrs Jennifer Hazelwood (Secretary) Mrs Toni Leach, Mrs Pauline Barley (Show Entries) plus Mrs Hazel Blewitt, Mrs Audrey Knight, Mr Sid Leech, Mr Percy Mason, Miss Mary Morris, Mrs Vera Reeve and Miss Joan Wheeler.
This Committee continued for quite a few years until 2009, when Don Berry took over as Secretary and Val Pizzey and Rosemary Newman joined the group. Mary Morris became Chairperson and also processed the Show Entries. Margaret Reeve and Rosemary West joined the Committee in 2011 and Ted Barrett volunteered to deal with the Show Entries – a job he still cheerfully does to this day. With members getting older, 2012 saw a radical change in the Committee with Val Pizzey as Chairperson, Margaret Reeve as Treasurer, and Janette Newson joining as Secretary. The Show had a total of thirteen Committee members, which now included Anne Westover, Nathan Wills, plus Chris and Alan Manley.
In 2013, Alan Manley became Chairman, Anne Westover became Secretary, and this is still the case today.
The Show started to have a theme each year, commencing in 2014 with the commemoration of the beginning of the First World War. 2015’s theme was the International Year of Soils (a very vital requirement for all our produce). In 2016 our theme was butterflies, and last year we chose the hedgehog – a very useful creature which is sadly in decline these days. This year’s theme, as you will hopefully have noticed, is the ladybird.
The community spirit continues on. For many years now, Wickham Market Primary School have been contributing to the children’s section of the Show with many colourful and creative entries adding another community dimension, for which we are grateful. These days, their entries adorn the walls of the back room making an interesting display for our visitors and, of course, proud parents! Also, in recent years, Potsford Farm, a local care farm offering a wide range of benefits for people in need, have been selling their produce and crafts on a stall outside the Hall over the Show weekend. Another aspect of our community joining in.
Finally, 2018 is also our 70th anniversary year, so it is time to say a big “thank you” to all those people down the years who have participated either by entering or helping to arrange the Show. Every person counts, however small their contribution. For, without all those people showing their interest and making an effort over the years, we wouldn’t be here today. They have given us a community legacy to carry forward which we hope, with continuing interest and effort, will go on for many years to come.
(With grateful acknowledgement to Wickham Market Area Archive Centre, particularly Ray Whitehand and Mary Morris.)
We would be pleased to hear from anyone who would like to help with the Show. Just for an hour or so to help set it up or over the Show weekend; or if you would like to do a bit more and join the Committee, we have only five meetings a year. If you are interested, please contact:
Secretary – Anne Westover on 747689
or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chairman – Alan Manley on 747431
or e-mail: email@example.com