I am lucky to live in a fairly small village, with a duckpond and community spirit. Every year we have a church fete, carol singing, events in the village hall, a tennis tournament, a jumble sale and this weekend saw the Annual Flower Show in all its glory. We have a spring flower show too but it is nothing compared to the scale of effort that goes into the main event.

The Flower Show is run on Royal Horticultural Society rules and there fore all entries are judged anonomously. On the morning of the show there is a frenzy of activity as everyone takes their flowers, vegetables, handicrafts, photos and cookery items to the huge marquee erected in the centre of what passes for a village green. The sheep are cleared out of the field a few days before and volunteers with lawn mowers do their best to make Church Meadow less meadow-like and more of ¬†‘venue’. A team of volunteer ladies make tea and cakes, portaloos are installed and a few side stalls are erected for select people to peddle their wares. Vintage cars are dusted off and polished up for a small exhibition and dogs of all shapes and sizes are washed and brushed in preparation for the fiercely contested dog show.

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The thing I love most about it is that some of the entries are not very good. ¬†Cakes are a bit lopsided or charred in places, some of the vegetables are quite small and a number of flower arrangements look a little wilted. I don’t love these entries for the comedy value, that would be mean, but for the fact that people have entered just for the taking part and to support this village tradition.. It

Between 9am and 11am the entries are rushed to the marquee. Flowers are arranged in the vases provided, cakes receive a last minure dusting of caster sugar and doilies are changed. At 11am the tent is closed for judging to begin and then reopened at 2pm for the croeds to see how they have faired, check out the competition and partake of tea and cakes.

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Entries into the many classes are 20p for adults and 10p for children. As well as the opportunity to win some impressive silverwear for overall classes, each individual class winner gets some prize money and all the kids also have a small packet of sweets just for entering. Finding a first place card next to your entry is incredibly satisfying, and to walk home at the end of the afternoon with a cup makes you feel ridiculously proud, even though after a year of it on the mantlepiece needing a clean you are very happy to give it back!

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The dog show gets a huge number of entries. A local vet is brought in the judge the waggiest tail, the most obedient, best pair of dogs, dog most like its owner and the agility contest. Straight out of a comedy show are the people who complain that their wildly expensive pedigree dogs should have won the Best Overall Dog, the dogs who have no idea how to obedient and make a run for it out of the ring as soon as they are off the lead, and the agile pets who haven’t a clue what to do face with a tunnel or a ramp. I once entered Digby with his brother Billy in best pair of dogs, but when it came to standing still to be judged they just dived on each other in a massive furry ball of play and when reprimanded to stand still Billy, who belongs to the vicar I might add, decided to hump his brother mercilessly during the judging. They weren’t even placed.

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In the evening the marquee is used to host a village dance with hog roast and a band… and one or two glasses of wine….