St Ives Flower & Produce Show 2012

That time of the year again... of sleepless nights, loads of cars drawing up in front of the house, the neighbours thinking I'm into something illict, my wife thinking I've lost my marbles, and the same old questions. Will we get enough exhibits to make this year a decent show? And if we get lots more exhibits how on earth will we fit them all in the hall we've hired at the Corn Exchange?

We certainly did have another big increase in exhibits for our third year of the show. In fact we've experienced an increase of about 100 each year... 255 in 2010, 378 in 2011 and 470 this year. But the most pleasing fact was, having had roughly the same number of exhibitors in the first two years, this year it jumped by 50% to 74. For the first time displaying roadside signs and a big banner on The Waits must have helped raise the profile of the show.

The exhibits did fit into the hall, though we had to change the table configuration this year by putting a double row of tables down one side. And we just about used up all the Corn Exchange tables, so if we get a similar increase next year we'll definately have to implement our contingency plan and call on the use of tables from the parish church hall.

The visiting public increased as well, aided by us placing the banner over the Corn Exchange door. It's amazing how much good will there is for the show.

Congratulations for the second year running to Mark Bottoms for winning the Holmes Trophy for the highest total points in the show, though he was run a close second by Jude Ongeri, winner of the Banksian Medal for most horticultural points.

As always, the highlight of the show for me is to see the family have a go. Remarkably, Becky came first in the baking section set recipe class, the creme de la creme of any baking competition. This year it was for shortbread and the judges comments were 'Excellent flavour and perfect texture, nicely presented'. What a result, and what delicious shortbread... I know 'cause we had the lot at home with tea.

Additionally Izzy won the children's section. At the prize giving session she had her name anounced and had to come up in front of the large crowd to collect her trophy. I got so carried away I presented her with the award when I should have been handing it to Councillor Ian Dobson to do the honours.

The show ended on a somewhat farcical note with me making my first ever appearance as an auctioneer, taking bids for donated exhibits. I'd brought along a large wooden mallet to double as a gavel, and kitchen steps so I could see more easily offers from the potentially large crowd. Quite a few people did stay behind to bid, though I suspect they were more likely waiting in eager anticipation for me to miss smashing the mallet against the handrail of the steps as a sign of each successful bid and end up in hospital with no kneecaps. When signs of cupcake overload appeared we set up table outside the Corn Exchange door and flogged a few more to an unsuspecting St Ives public.

Lots of thanks go to the team of five who put in all the hard work to make the show a success, to the additional crew who turned up to help on the day or baked cakes for sale, to Mayor Debbie Townsend for opening the show and judging the Queen's Jubilee section, to all our other judges who freely gave their time, to Councillors Ian Dobson and Jonathan Salt for awarding the prizes, and finally to the town crier for yet again doing a magnificent job of loudly announcing the show.

You can find out more about this years show as follows...
* To view a summary of all the exhibitor results click here.
* Click any of the sample images at the foot of this post to enlarge.
* To view all the photos click here.

You can also find our more information about past shows by clicking the following links...
Allotment Heaven: St Ives Flower Show from 1876
Allotment Heaven: St Ives Flower & Produce Show 2010
Allotment Heaven: St Ives Flower & Produce Show 2011

And if you're really gagging for detail, try these links...
* For images of my own and the family's exhibits click here.
* Listen to the Huntingdon Community Radio interview Richard & I did here.
And for good measure, my own meagre exhibit placings were...

Runner beans: 1st
Chilli peppers: 1st
Pumpkin: 1st
Plums, damsons or greengages: 1st
Sunflowers: 1st
Exhibition onions: 2nd
Beer: 2nd
Cucumber: 3rd
Plums, damsons or greengages: 3rd
Brown hens eggs: 3rd

Final checks that all is ready just before 9:00pm on Friday evening. Just time for a team photo before we all head off home exhausted.
Exhibitors start placing their exhibits on the tables early Saturday morning. Let the judging commence! Here are the vegetable judges and assistants.
Congratulations to Mark Bottoms, winner of the Holmes Trophy for highest number of points in the show. Congratulations also to Jude Ongeri, winner of the RHS Banksian Medal for most horticultural points.

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