National Fruit Show celebrates 80 years

The Marden Fruit Show Society is gearing up for its 80th Anniversary National Fruit Show on 16th and 17th October 2013 at the Kent Event Centre in Detling.

Set up after the demise of the 41 year old Marden, Staplehurst and Collier Street Agriculture Association, Lord Cornwallis, its first President, is quoted as saying he was sure the new Society would be of great benefit to fruit growers in the district. He had hoped it would last as long as the old one and maybe even longer, with 69 shows under its belt, 10 being cancelled due to the war and one due to frost, the Society has certainly matched and exceeded its first President’s aspirations.

The Show has gone from strength to strength, symbolised by its move from Marden to the County Showground during the eighties and is now one of the most respected and well-attended fruit commercial trade shows in the country. At the heart of this successful show is the competition fruit display – 80m of triple stacked trays of the best of British top fruit, picked and packed by growers whose long-standing commitment to the show has been at the forefront of its success.  The number of show classes has doubled since the show’s humble beginnings and now include soft fruit, nuts, tomatoes and juice as well as the traditional apple and pear.

Sarah Calcutt Chair of the Marden Fruit Show said: “The National Fruit Show is where industry gathers to showcase growing techniques, innovation, storage and the marketing of English fruit.  The Show ensures that communication within the sector has a platform and the growers who visit are kept up to date with developments and innovations in the industry.”

Maria Clarke, Show Secretary added: “The Show is becoming increasingly popular with Exhibitors. This year we have over 20 new trade stands to date including AC Goatham, Syngenta, Fourayes Farm, Four Jays, Burton McCall, Grupa Bis-Pol, Plant Impact, Compo Expert UK, Cotesi, QCL, Harzfloor, Anton Paar, Woodland Trust, Euler Hermes, CLA, Sorbus International, H Holz, Beba Energy and the Future School Trust.”

To accommodate the demand for show dinner tickets, the celebration dinner will be hosted on site in the Clive Emson Conference Centre.  Maria Clarke said: “We felt it important in our 80th year that we find a venue which caters for large numbers so that we do not have to turn anyone away as we have done in previous years. We would like to thank the Kent Event Centre for kindly letting us use their Clive Emson building.  We have already sold more tables than ever but we can still accommodate a few more if required.  Deadline for booking is the 1st October.”

To celebrate 80 years the National Fruit Show’s Conference is promising an unrivalled lineup of speakers discussing the most pressing issues for growers. There will be a National focus on the market in the morning whilst Agronomy and grower issues will dominate the afternoon session.

Following the success of the inaugural conference in 2012, the National Fruit Show is partnering with the Fresh Produce Journal for 2013.  Also sponsored by Whitehead Monckton, the conference will feature a morning session focused on retail followed by an afternoon programme addressing key grower and technical issues.

Sarah Calcutt added: “This year’s conference will be even better, with high-profile speakers discussing the topics that matter most to the nation’s fruit growers.”

Michael Barker, editor of the Fresh Produce Journal, added: “We are delighted to be involved in the National Fruit Show Conference and look forward to taking part in such a well-established and respected event. There are some major issues facing UK growers at the moment and this conference will give them the opportunity to hear from industry leaders and get involved in the debate first hand.”

It is with sadness, however, that the celebrations will not include one of the Society’s long-standing and committed members. Sue Daly, formerly Chair of the Judges, passed away in June of this year.

Sarah Calcutt Chair said: “Sue will be greatly missed by the Society. Having inherited the role of Judges Chair from her father, Sue undertook this voluntarily, but nevertheless important role for a great number of years. In March of this year the Society presented her with a long-standing service award and she will be greatly missed. Reflecting Sue’s commitment to education, Class 26, the novice class, has been re-named the Sue Daly Under 26 class and a new trophy in her name will be presented to the winner.”

The Marden Fruit Show Society is delighted to have reached its 80th Birthday and to celebrate, a bottle of champagne will be given away to one lucky visitor each hour the show is open. To enter, just fill in a registration form at reception. All legible entries will be included in the draw. Whilst there is no formal recognition for an 80th anniversary, this milestone is never-the-less testament to the dedication of the growers, industry specialists and businesses that have supported the Show over the decades.

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