Variety is key to success of the Bakewell Show

Bakewell Show. Catherine Payne from Green Farm Plants and Herbs at Birchover was awarded a silver gilt medal
Bakewell Show. Catherine Payne from Green Farm Plants and Herbs at Birchover was awarded a silver gilt medal

The secret to the Bakewell Show’s success is very simple - but equally poses a tough challenge, the event’s manager Janet Bailey believes. “No two shows are the same,” she said.

“People don’t want it to be the same as last year. As well as the old favourites like floral art, and the food and farming marquee, we try interesting, new things as well so it doesn’t get stale.

“The idea is to give people variety and choice. It’s a good value, fun day out for all the family.”

For 2015 - the country show’s 185th outing - the showground layout has been revamped to make it easier for people to get around.

Entertainment facilities have been moved, freeing up space for more trade stands, food courts and seating for the public, as well as the usual attractions - champion animals, mammoth vegetables, vintage vehicles, specialist food and the ever-popular beach experience.

Visitors will also be able to stroll around a new farmers’ market packed with stalls selling local produce from eggs and vegetables to breads and cakes, satisfying people’s increasing desire to browse and buy.

Janet said: “We went to a couple of other shows such as Cheshire, and they had a bit of a market which was very popular, so we are copying them to a certain degree, but there will be all sorts of things and a variety of foods. It’ll all be to take away though, not to eat on the day.”

Attractions take place throughout each day, beginning with horse trials on Tuesday before the main events get under way on Wednesday and Thursday.

Organisers are particularly proud that the Bakewell Show’s dog classes have regained their coveted premier status with the Kennel Club, meaning every best of breed qualifies for Crufts.

“We did have it for a while but the Kennel Club have very strict rules,” Janet explained.

Making sure there are plenty of things for children to see and do is more important than ever, she added.

“They’re the visitors of tomorrow, and we hope they’ll come when they’re grown up if they’ve enjoyed the experience. And there are still an awful lot of children who come out of the city and think eggs and milk come from Tesco.

“I always remember that a college from Cheshire came a few years ago with a model cow that you could get milk out of. A little girl came up and decided she wanted to drink the milk, but her little brother who was with her went bananas because he didn’t understand where milk came from - he thought they were trying to poison his sister!

“Some children really don’t understand where a lot of the food on their plate comes from, the poor little devils.”

A new Crazy Cupcake Challenge has been launched to teach children about the link between growing food and eating, as well as encouraging their creative side.

Youngsters can buy a cake in the marquee for £1, and use the toppings available to decorate it.

Cakes are photographed and displayed on the show’s website - the one which receives most votes win tickets for next year.

With all the planning involved, the organisers don’t get much respite from the show. When the Sheffield Telegraph caught up with Janet she was closely monitoring the state of the showground, which has been the venue for a packed calendar of events this summer, from the weekend Spectacular in May to the Eroica vintage cycling extravaganza in June. The return of the Bakewell Baking Festival is still to come next month.

“The ground’s had a bit of a battering recently, there have been some big events on,” said Janet.

“It’s just a question of keeping an eye on it and making sure it’s nice and tidy. We don’t really stop - it’s certainly a 360-day job. We get some time off at Christmas!”

As the event approaches its 200th anniversary, the show committee is more determined than ever to make sure it has a bright future.

“So many shows have gone to the wall so with an event with a history like ours we’ll fight doubly hard to keep it going.

“Even in the last foot and mouth outbreak we had a show but no animals. We’re like The Windmill theatre - we never close. We will carry on regardless, we’ve had it all before and we’ll deal with it. And it doesn’t matter what the weather throws at us - there’s plenty of shelter!”