Flower and Produce Show
Enthusiasm is the only qualification for entry to the Brightwell Flower and Produce Show, held in July each year as part of the Village Fete. We have judges who know what they are talking about but, as for the entrants, many of us are rank amateurs and proud of it!
There are trophies to be won. However the only reward most people can aspire to is a prize card or two to put on the mantelpiece. Even so, each year we manage to attract an average of around 100 exhibitors. We are grateful for their efforts, which make the show tent one of the star attractions of the fete.
In the past, the show was a joint effort between the WI and the British Legion. Now, it is run by an independent committee. There are classes for flower arranging, fruit and vegetables, cooking and photography, as well as a junior section.
A full schedule, complete with entry form, can be found each year in the centre pages of the June/July edition of The Villager. Extra forms are available from June onwards at the Village Stores, or from committee members.
We are always on the lookout for new people to help out; if you are
interested, please contact our Chairman Alison Hedges on 01491 833197.
We do not know exactly when the Produce Show started. However, the History Group has in its archives a copy of the schedule for the Brightwell, Sotwell and Rush Court Horticultural Show at Style Acre in July, 1914.
If you entered this show, you could undoubtedly expect to face some fierce competition. None of your namby-pamby ‘bowls of fruit’ for these exhibitors. You want to enter gooseberries? No less than 24 will do. Broad, Dwarf or Runner Beans were only acceptable in groups of 24 pods – and Jam came in 2 lb pots. Nothing less, nothing more. If you entered a Collection of Vegetables, you had to specify whose seed you had used – whether Lay’s, Hunt’s or Tarry’s - and keep the seed packet, to be produced if required.
Competitors paid 6d per entry, and there were cash prizes of up to half a crown. The biggest reward – at five shillings - came to the person who sent the largest quantity of Queen Wasps to the show secretary by June 1st (before 6 pm). Pity the hapless secretary, who presumably had to arrange for the destruction of all those Queen Wasps so lovingly collected.
Children under the age of 14 had a choice of two classes: A Vase of
Wild Flowers (not something that would be encouraged today) and a Model
of a Garden in a two foot box. Prizes were donated by people in the Big
Houses, and there was more than a whiff of class distinction in the
division of some of the vegetable classes between ‘farm labourers’ and
The Brightwell Flower and Produce Show Lament
This poem by Janita Clamp won First Prize in the poem category for the 2017 show – ironically, for a poem which was all about how difficult it was to please the judges!
I was proud of my beans and cried, ‘What ho!
I’ll put them in the flower and produce show.’
Six plump, green pods were brought to the tent,
Five were straight and one was bent.
It was my first time, I did not know
The rules of the flower and produce show.
Seventeen years on and those beans are history,
But the judges’ ways remain a mystery.
I picked four herbs and put them in a pot
But the label with their names? Oops! I forgot.
Parsley, thyme, rosemary and sage –
Why must these be written on a page?
My sweet pea stems are far too short;
My strawberries have developed warts;
My courgettes are great – but different sizes…
None of the above will win me prizes.
I had a bash at arranging flowers –
Surely that’s within my powers?
I carried my vase to the show marquee,
Saw the competition, and decided to flee.
My scones are flat. My jam’s too thick.
My brownies burnt. My bread? A brick.
I was going to enter my sloe gin
But drank it for Dutch courage on the way in.
Every year I hope and pray
That a coloured card will come my way;
My entries look much like all the rest,
But someone else’s is always best.
This time I’m digging with my pen
(No harm in a literary reference now and then).
Each word is nurtured, no rhyme is fudged,
My poem is ready to be judged.
Yet despite this catalogue of woe,
My faith, my hope, my ‘have a go’
Remain undaunted because, you know,
I love the flower and produce show.