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04th May, 2022

Planning starts a year in advance, says deputy head of shows, Jess Chiplen. “It takes many hands to make it the show so many people love, and this year is no exception with the Platinum Jubilee celebrations.”

Working from the society offices are the permanent team, steered by a board of trustees and 30 committees which oversee the many sections of the show – as well as an army of volunteers.

Heading up livestock and entries for all sections is senior officer, Sarah Chick. “Each year the individual committees meet to plan their competitions; listening to feedback to develop diverse schedules that showcase the very best competition.”

 “The show can expect 3,000 entries in livestock and equine sections alone – plus hundreds  of entries for the other sections,” she adds.

Although entries are now online, it takes two or three people three full days to post out the show packs containing tickets, passes, vouchers and maps  to the horse entries alone.

Then there the bank of silverware, rosettes and prize money to be collected, shined and allocated. “But seeing everyone and everything come together and enjoyed on the first day of the show is so worth it,” says Ms Chick.

Overseeing the livestock is chief steward, Maureen Trott, who spent years showing her own pedigree Holstein cattle. “The main ring parade is a highlight that visitors gather to see, it’s a wonderful sight,” she says.

But there is a wealth of work to make that happen. “From right after the show to the next there is constant communication to organise sponsors, schedules, judges, breed societies, vets, biosecurity officers, as well as a mountain of paperwork and contingency planning for the safe gathering of livestock,” she explains.

The show hosts some 4,000 animals so stall plans are sent drawn up early to ensure a smooth check-in. “Livestock arrive on the Tuesday and Wednesday before the show with stewards and vets on hand to carry out passport checks and animal inspections.”

During the show, the work only increases with co-ordinating exhibitors, classes, competitions, and the general public. “But giving the exhibitors and visitors a really enjoyable show makes it all worthwhile.”

Looking after the showground’s 240 acres is Dan Tully. “We’ve cleared a lot of bracken, bramble and trees felled in the recent storms,” he says. “Producing our own woodchip, we’ve also created a new woodland path for visitors to enjoy.”

And with grass growth romping away, Mr Tully’s team have been busy mowing the main ring and lawns as well as painting and repairing buildings as required.

“In May, we’ll be completing final ground preparation and erecting livestock boarding in our permanent buildings – with third parties erecting the marquees,” he explains.

When it comes to the main event, the entertainment falls to the show’s permanent team to organise. “Guided by visitor and exhibitor feedback, we have been busy booking main show acts, like heart-stopping quad bike stunt displays, as well as family fun features including the popular Lakeside Farm,” says Ms Chiplen.

“And, importantly, the live music that is enjoyed on the main lawn, around the bandstand and well into the evening in the Pilton tent.” Advance ticket sales are up 140% on 2019, says Ms Chiplen. “It’s great to see people eager for the show’s return. Our stewards and volunteers are integral to the show’s success – without them it just wouldn’t happen, and  we can’t wait to open the gates in June.”

The Royal Bath & West Show takes place on 2-4 June 2022 at The Showground, Shepton Mallet, Somerset BA4 6QN. You can book tickets at https://www.bathandwest.com/tickets.

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