It all started way back in the early 1970s when I was with someone whose Dad and Uncle were really into growing and showing. Bacton show back then was just a produce show in a school hall with childrens races on the playing field. Cliff and Bill would vie with each other and a few other men from the village for the big overall prize - The Presidents Challenge Cup.
The day before the show would be busy with harvesting produce, cleaning, polishing and preparing. There was a special way to show onions, tops bound with garden string and shallots all neatly stood in a small box full of sand. The tray of vegetables would be lined with parsley before displaying a mixture of the best vegetables. It was tense stuff.! I didn't enter anything back then but the memories of rushing into the school hall to see if my then Father-in-law had won stayed with me.
After 45 years vegetable grower Bill is still remembered with the William Steel Memorial Salver.
Fast forward to the 1980's, after 8 years away from the village during which Cliff's son and I had divorced and I'd married Colin and we moved back to that village and were there for 10 years and I often entered something in the show, especially as the children got older and I had more time.
Onto 1992 and I was very pleased to find that the smallholding we moved to near the coast was in a village that also had a Flower and Produce show and before long I was entering as much as I had time to bake and harvest. Sometimes Col would help by having the Friday off to wash up all the baking utensils as I used them. The children entered things in the Childrens sections, painting stones, garden on a plate and similar things and we would all rush down to the village hall to see if we had won anything.......... The excitement of seeing the red FIRST sticker on the entry card!
I used my experience to write a piece for the Suffolk Smallholder Society newsletter all about entering shows......the unseen rules like calyxes must be on tomatoes and vegetables entered in a class should all be the same size.
So here I am after all these years, back in Mid Suffolk less than 8 miles from that first village where it all started and where we lived and where I was Cub Scout Leader for so many years and where I go to Big WI. I asked Colin's brother to watch out and save the schedule which comes with his Parish Magazine in May or June and then I'm ready to enter again.
12 classes entered this year (9 last year) including a "chequered sponge cake" which involved covering a sponge with chocolate buttercream and rolling it in toasted coconut! You should have see the mess in the kitchen!
Below is what I entered and what I thought after taking everything to the marquee on Saturday morning and seeing all the other entries
- 3 courgettes - and despite having 7 plants the only 3 ready on the day were teeny - no chance of winning
- 5 Tomatoes - 4 were perfectly ripe but the 5th wasn't quite there
- 6 Cherry tomatoes - I entered the yellow Ildi - they stood a chance
- 2 Cucumbers - 1 perfect the other a bit marked on the end - maybe not good
- A Tray of vegetables - my tray looked a bit pathetic compared to the others
- Any other vegetable - I entered 2 pointy peppers - but there were loads of better entries
- The Chequered Cake - No idea what it would look like inside
- WI members only - Coffee and Walnut - A Hopeful possible as there were only two entries
- 6 Suffolk Rusks - They looked OK but LOADs of entries
- Cut and Come again fruit cake - again loads of entries as it was a sponsored class with a £6 first prize!
- Jar of Strawberry Jam - mine was too dark compared to the others - obviously over cooked - damn!
- Vase of herbs.Looked OK
And how did I get on?..............better than I thought!
Even the teeny courgettes got a 3rd!
The one I was most pleased with was my second prize in the class for a Cut and Come Again Cake, not just because it was a special sponsored prize and won me a Fiver but due to the big prize money and easy recipe there were loads of entries. A 2nd prize out of 15 entries is almost better than a first out of 5 entries!
|I think mine is second from the left at the back? I feel sorry for the cake judges who have to try a bit from every cake!|
More photos from the show tomorrow.