The Recent History of Nantwich Show and The Cheese Show by Michael-John Parkin Chairman

The Nantwich Show celebrated its Centenary in 1997 with the appearance of the Household Cavalry, with attendance of approx. 30,000 people on Show day.

As the years progressed, the size and cost of the show have increased. In 1997 the cost of staging the show was approximately £350,000, and today, the event turns over a staggering £850,000.

The setting up of the show takes up to five weeks prior to the event and runs on to the middle of August before the site is turned back to a field. This is the period when a team of volunteer helpers are at their most industrious to ensure the success of the day.

Nantwich Agricultural Society Ltd. Is a UK registered Charity with its main aim to promote Agriculture especially the Dairy Industry which is closely associated with Farming and also local industry and commerce in South Cheshire.

The Nantwich Show has one full time employee, Adrian Lawrence , along with his father George to assist, and the rest of the family. George Lawrence was first employed by the Show in 1983. My father John Parkin was on the interview panel at the time in his position as Vice Chairman. It is very much a family affair!

Up until the turn of the Century the show had made good profits as we had been fortunate to have good weather in fact one of the headlines in Cheshire Life in 90’s was ‘Nantwich show bathed in Sunshine yet again’

In 2000 we had over £500,000 in the bank which proved to be our saviour over the next seven years as the show was cancelled forced to be cancelled twice, this included a total cancellation in 2001 due to Foot & Mouth disease, seeing a £45,000 loss. In 2002 and 2003 bad weather put a dampener on the events which led to further losses of over £60,000.

The adverse weather of 2007 meant we were close to total cancellation however the Cheese Awards went ahead with the help at considerable cost of hiring in Aluminium Tracking. Unfortunately however, with the main show being cancelled we lost a further £120,000.

Not to be beaten we decided to upgrade the Cheese Pavilion and went ahead with a laser-levelled floor and hired in Aluminium tracking in the following years to make sure the Show could go ahead this was covered by extra sponsorship and the re-launch of Nantwich Cheese Awards to the International Cheese Awards (ICA) in 2009.

The cost of putting on the Show had escalated to over £650,000 so we were aware that cancellation again would have a devastating effect on the society we therefore took out cancellation Insurance which proved our saviour in 2009 due to wet weather when the show gain was nearly cancelled but went ahead by hiring in extra equipment covered by insurance. However the terrible bad weather in July 2012 meant the Agricultural Show was gain cancelled with losses of over £200,000 however this was covered by Insurance.

This last year’s show was a huge success with an attendance of over 35,000 on show day and the cost of staging the show now exceeding £850,000 with record sponsorship of over £250,000.

With 4,500 entries in the ICA and record amount of Trade stands both in the Cheese awards and the Agricultural Show. This year the ICA attracted entries from over 30 different countries.

Nantwich Show is hugely popular with the agricultural community, it’s a chance to showcase what agriculture is all about and has a huge following from the surrounding farming community.

We show the very best of what the countryside is all about; from the various activities that take place and the broad range of trade stand, there is always something for everyone, whether connected with farming or not.

The ICA is a two-day event; day one is a Judging & Trade day with nearly 200 voluntary judges who are specialists in their field and are supported by over 200 voluntary stewards both from the dairy industry and local community. Day two, is the main show day, giving the public the opportunity to sample over 4,500 cheeses and enjoy live cookery demonstrations from top celebrity chefs including James Martin, Matt Tebbit and Gino DeCampo. James Martin, back for his fifth year in 2015 often references the event on his popular Saturday Kitchen television programme.

The agricultural show has a huge cattle section of over 400 cattle being exhibited in 2014, we also had the largest ever Town & Country Pavilion to house over 100 local organisations ranging from local hotels and services businesses to charities and clubs.

Records were broken once again with the number of outside trade stands exceeding 400 with over 80% coming from the regional agricultural trades and the remaining 20% being the local motor industry, crafts and other businesses from the area.

Each year The Mornflake Food Hall showcases everything you would expect to see in a top food festival including local and regional products, many of which come from small to medium sized local producers.

2014 also saw excellent level of entries of Floral Art, Home Produce, Honey and Arts & Crafts section. For the first time ever, the Honey section even included a working hive demonstration which was an extremely popular attraction.

As always, the Poultry & Pigeon Livestock section was a huge attraction to the public.

The Countryside Pursuits area has continued to grow with this year seeing demonstrations of rural crafts and skills including willow weaving and chainsaw tree sculpture, to name a few. The Demonstration Ring saw everything from working gun dogs to falconry.

The Main Ring attractions included record entries of Shire Horses, Private Driving, the Grand Parade of Cattle, and Vintage Cars & Farm Machinery. For 2014 our main ring attraction was the internationally acclaimed Jason Smyth with his dare-devil motor and quad bike stunt displays.

All this is achieved with the hard work, skills and dedication of over 700 volunteers throughout the year and on show day. A significant amount of these volunteers, have contributed over 40-years service spanning generations of families.