And so, despite an unpromising weather forecast, we set off for Needham Market station to catch the train to Ipswich. There is, I'm pleased to say, a bus laid on to transport pedestrians to the Showgrounds in Trinity Park, and we were able to make good time before purchasing our entrance tickets.
Having got in, I was somewhat staggered by the sheer scale of the event. There are hundreds of different judging classes for rabbits, pigs, cows, sheep and all manner of farm animals, and we were soon checking out some prize sheep. Some of the breeds are much bigger than I might have expected, and quite aggressive too - hardly the passive creatures that you see on television!
There are plenty of lifestyle exhibits too, with a food and drink tent sponsored by Adnams, the Southwold brewery, some rather chi-chi furniture and enough 'clothing for country folk' to clothe most of East Anglia for the next decade. We slipped in to get a snack and sampled our way through the exhibition. It may not be good for the waistline but my stomach certainly appreciated it.
There are even competitions for blacksmiths and teams could be found shoeing horses against the clock. The horses used are big, and quite capable of giving an errant farrier a hefty and very painful kick, yet for the most part they stand patiently whilst the horseshoes are fitted. Of course, the county is famous for its Suffolk Punch, a large, attractive and tough work horse whose decline in numbers has been the driver for a campaign to save the breed.
Dotted amongst the exhibits are bars, rides for the children (and those who still like to behave that way!), trade stands, cookery demonstrations and various entertainments for young and old alike. You can even spend a restful few minutes listening to Winston the Singing Farmer (no, I'm not kidding...).
So, for those of you who have always wondered what a County Show might be like, Ipswich isn't too far away, and you could do it as a day trip. For more information, try http://www.suffolkshow.co.uk/...