80th National Fruit Show bigger and better

Article taken from The Fruit Grower, written by Malcolm Withnall

At the pre-Show press briefing, both the President, Rt. Hon. Michael Jack and Chairman, Sarah Culcutt, of the Marden Fruit Show Society were able to report that the National Fruit Show that had further extended its founders’ aspirations to pursue excellence on behalf of the fruit industry.

Michael Jack enthused that the temporary relocation of the exhibition marquees appeared to make the Show bigger, and Sarah Calcutt reported that not only were the growers of the 139 fruit exhibits more geographically widespread and included several new names, but also that the number of trade exhibitors supporting the Show had increased by 16 over 2012 to well over 100, including many for the first time.

Sarah further reported that the juice classes were slightly down due to the lateness of the apple season, but entries had extended to include more blended juices made up of several fruits, including raspberries and blackberries.  She commented that the Show continues to host the Tastiest Apple and Tomato Competitions, the heaviest Apple and Pear Competitions, and autumn soft fruit and nut classes.

Underpinning the fruit displays is the high quality of UK-grown fruit, with 22 entries in this year’s classes gaining 95 points out of a possible 100, making the number of Bonanza Prize entrants the largest for years.  Refrigeration specialists, STS Ltd, donated energy-saving equipment worth £6,000 to be awarded as the Bonanza Prize this year.

The scale and high calibre of the National Fruit Show is made possible by generous sponsors being Norman Collett Ltd, BASF, ICA and Agrovista UK.  With the Show Dinner sponsored by Hadlow College and the pre-dinner reception by OrchardWorld, the Society recognises its debt to its many supporters.

2013 saw the Marden Fruit Show Society celebrating its 80th birthday, with an observation that in 1933, the first year of its existence, Ramsay MacDonald was Prime Minister and the Aussies were complaining about body-line bowling by the English cricketers.

It was appropriate that the Society had invited the Bishop of Dover, Rt. Rev. Trevor Willmott, to join the opening of the Show, carried out by Sainsbury’s Retail Director, Helen Buck.  Bishop Trevor, in Harvest Festival tradition, offered a blessing over the display fruit.

Sarah Calcutt drew attention to the Festival of British Fruit which was to take place at Gore Farm, Upchurch near Sittingbourne on the weekend following the Show, hosted by AC Goatham Ltd and supported by Sainsbury’s, to where the Show fruit would be transferred for public sale as part of the National Apple Day celebrations.

Sarah also noted that the new Norman Collett Award was to be made at the Show dinner to an individual who had demonstrated exceptional endeavour within the industry.  This individual was later revealed to be Adrian Barlow, CEO of English Apples & Pears Ltd, and was a fitting tribute to his work on behalf of the industry.  Norman Collett Ltd is celebrating its 10th year sponsoring the National Fruit Show – a unique achievement.


15 November 2013

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