(September 1991) Impressions of the new-look Horti Show

Around 250 people braved an unfamiliar Saturday afternoon mini heatwave to descend upon the Main Hall of Sibford School for the first new-look Annual Show of the Horti Society. One’s first impression of this new venue was the airy spaciousness and refreshingly cool atmosphere, which was greatly appreciated, especially by those who had toiled up the drive by shanks’ pony.

The second impression was the shrewdness of the layout, since, in order to reach the Show entries area, one had to pass between tables laden with goodies for sale, such as plants, both common and rare, a host of golden fuschias, raffle tickets (with no less than 40 prizes on view), Dr Heath’s mountain of books (as seen at all the better Sibford functions) and homemade jams & cake – all of which were selling like hot dittos.

The impression of spaciousness continued into the neatly arranged tables of Show entries, with ample room to view at leisure, even for those with pushchairs or in wheelchairs – a great improvement on shuffling and/or stumbling around an overcrowded and overheated marquee, with vases, pots and Candlesticks teetering precariously on wobbly tables – things sure ain’t what they used to be.

With few exceptions, the entries appeared to be of the usual high standard, although some of the vegetable classes (especially the tomatoes!) showed the results of the lateness of the growing season this year. On the other hand, several of the winning vegetables and flowers could hardly have been battered, even in a perfect gardening year. The crafts and chi1dren’s sections were well supported and included many delightful and ingenious entries.

After an hour of browsing. buying, viewing, chatting and more buying, it was a relief to enter the spacious tea room with its comfortable chairs and sparkling tablecloths, and to be served tea and homemade cake by a smiling bevy of ‘Nippies’. Again a welcome improvement over the facilities of yesteryears, where the scramble for seats was often reminiscent of scenes from a chimps tea party.

The afternoon ended with the raffle draw (I won an oven glove – handy when pruning the roses!) and the prize giving; it was nice to see some ‘old-timers’ among the winners, one of whom was competing for the first time in his 80 odd years in Sibford!

The overall impression was of a well-organisod and enjoyable first effort at the new venue. The only criticism heard was that the usual ‘village fete’ atmosphere was somewhat subdued by the size of the hall – no doubt the Horti Society committee would be pleased to receive any suggestions on ways to improve this or any other aspect of the Show for next year.

R. H.