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Annual ‘flower show’ means so much more

Judges and officials getting ready to assess some 200 entries at this year's Howick Village Show.
Judges and officials getting ready to assess some 200 entries at this year's Howick Village Show.

Nostalgia ruled as our first judging commitment of the season got under way on July 28 at Howick Village Show.

This will be repeated at Warkworth Show on Saturday, August 18, and on August Bank Holiday Monday at Glendale, when judges sort out the exhibits and assess the twists and turns of a memorable growing season.

Why the nostalgia? Because summer shows have always been on my radar – junior competitor, committee member, secretary, judge, etc.

It began with growing up in an environment where the annual village show was a cause for celebration across the age demographic. This left such a positive impression. One day in the year guaranteed to put smiles on faces and raise self-esteem in creating lots of winners – as flower shows still do.

It was enjoyed by vegetable growers who grasped the opportunity to prove they had the best specimens, leeks and onions assuming great importance, as today. Chrysanthemums, dahlias and sweet peas were, and remain, prominent.

But the title ‘flower show’ doesn’t begin to explain all that happens, and perhaps only came about because ‘horticultural and industrial society exhibition’ was too long-winded.

The event would not be bona fide without classes for baking, preserves, knitted garments and beautifully crocheted items, alongside children’s handwriting, painting and poetry.

Add entertainment and refreshments and you still have the ingredients for a good old social get-together in a technological age so demanding of time.

Village shows are a threatened species so more reason for supporting them, be they in a large marquee or small hall, which was the case at Howick.

We’ve enjoyed judging there in recent years, alongside Pat (industrial classes) and Sally (photography and children’s section).

A respectable 200 entries were recorded this time, the two most interesting in our section being the meal-in-a-basket and a floral item to wear at a wedding.

The first asked for an arrangement of fruit and vegetables, five items only. It had five entries. The second was a variation of the gentleman’s buttonhole and lady’s spray classes. Two exhibits stood out; a silver bracelet with petite arrangement and a comb adorned with flowers.

Delicious refreshments were provided by the WI, and a barbecue on the green was organised for the evening.

It was only after judging and visitors arriving that I heard the first male voice of the day. Lady power plays a big part in keeping this lovely show going.