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Issue:- 23 August  2012

The Southport Flower Show 2012 - PART 1
Photographs by Patrick Trollope and report by C Trollope

FROM Thursday, 16 August, 2012, the famous, annually run, Southport  Flower Show, was held in Victoria Park. It comprised all the usual attractions, amongst which were major floral displays, rural crafts, celebrity lectures, and art and photography. The arena was host to jousting knights, dog displays teams, falconry displays, horse drawn dray parade and clowns, whilst all around were myriad stalls offering a diverse array of goods and services. There was so much on offer over the four days that our photographs and report can only offer a sample. All sections of the show ground were well patronised although obvious attractions like the grand marquees and arena were most heavily visited. There was some evidence of the economic recession in the absence of large displays by municipal bodies and similar establishments, which have delighted the public in the past although the magnificent work by HM Prisons was some compensation. The Show might also have lacked the Ladies’ Day Fashion Show, which in previous years has been held with much success, but other favourites like The North West Food and Drink Festival, along with the Book Festival, proved to be a good draw with the crowds. This year’s Food and Drink event cooked up quite a fuss throughout the four days, with Brian Mellor, the Master Chef of Great Britain, Head Chef at BBC and Executive Chef at Granada TV. He was joined throughout the event by culinary comrades, Southport Chefs, Jay Tinker from Tinkers, Southport to Andrea Mellon from the Duk & Pond Restaurants in Preston and Liverpool ONE's Lunya; as well as Andrew’s Fish from Game and Poultry, Chatchai JamJang who is the Head Chef at the Vermillion, Manchester and Anthony Shirley and Chris Neve from Seafood Pub Company. They and the many others covered many topics to whip up culinary delights. But students might have had the most fun learning from Sandra Gee, who derived fast food as you have never seen it before, thanks to a microwave! Also turning the page to a new chapter, this year's Book Festival was organised by Broadhurst's of Southport, one of the country's leading independent bookshops. They had a huge range of local authors like Jean Sprackland, Jeremy Symons and to add to the shows cooking themes Simon Rimmer, the accidental vegetarian. But it was not all food and fiction as Brian Radam delivered a gardening side to the proceedings with his "Lawnmowers and Glasscutters (A Complete Guide)". artist Graeme Currie, who created his reworked map of Mersey Rail called:- "Centre of the Universe, in 2008", also attended and displayed his fantastic maps. International journalist Alexander Lindsay also attended the event along with Davy Thompson, the Thrifty Gardener Alys Fowler and many more... The Stefan Buczacki Open Photography Competition and The Student Garden Design Competition, both proved to be very successful as well. In fact the biggest draw for the kids was still The David Bellamy Design a Garden Competition, in its 14th year at the show. In our view the Amateur Competitions and displays were probably of the highest standard yet. We cannot forget however, the varied was the programme of demonstrations from amateurs, experts and professionals within the bustling marquee. Outside, despite the rain, two crowds braved the elements and kept many of the shows patrons happy. Sadly, the rain spoiled the visit of Patti Clare on two days; on the unofficial visit on the Tuesday, to see the Coronation Street Garden and again on the official visit on the Friday. She was joined by fellow ITV Coronation Street star, David Neilson. Both of them delivered a highly crowd-pleasing appearance, despite the rain, and put up with our mad requests from us the press. It was fantastic to see them on what was a truly unique garden.

During Saturday, 18 August 2012, the Southport Flower Show ground was full of a variety of interested people desirous of a good day out. They were not disappointed. The dull start with ominous clouds overhead did not detour crowds from entering in by droves to enjoy all that the show had to offer. The sun soon shone and the atmosphere really warmed up. The ground was quite wet underfoot, but the hard serviced paths and the matting on the grass helped to keep one dry. Terry Tasker gave a talk on growing for showing at mid-day in the GFM Lecture Theatre while the SDC Youth Theatre sang their hearts out, at the Bandstand, to a large audience. They were followed by the Morecambe Band and next the Biddulph Male Voice Choir. In the Cookery Theatre, among various well known Chefs, was Lisa Allen, the Great British Kitchen Queen, and Simon Rimmer, the TV presenter, who, earlier in the day gave a talk about his book, The Accidental Vegetarian in the Book Festival marquee. In the Floral Art Marquee there were talks by Tom Hodge and Nikki Leadsom. Trade was quite brisk in the other marquees as was that of the exhibitors and outside stalls. The Pieroth Wine stall seemed to be very popular. The Arena kept young and old alike entertained with the Yorkshire Ben Potter’s Hawk and Owl displays and even involved some of the children present; H & M Dog Display were most impressive; the Knights of the Damned held people spell-bound with their extremely exciting jousting. The floral displays, Fruit and Vegetable exhibits along with all the others attractions gave everyone a very delightful day. Many people leaving the show said how much they had enjoyed the day.

The unsettled weather on Sunday was probably responsible for a lower attendance, although the heavy rain held off until the afternoon. Once it began there was a good trade in the numerous food and drink areas and there were also plenty of other places to shelter in. Apart from the main marquees, there were tents with modern floral art and amateur growers’ displays, cookery theatres and beekeeping. But outside it was a forlorn sight to witness the splendid efforts of the accomplished Morecambe Brass Band and talented SDC Youth Theatre Group, on the Bandstand with rows and rows of empty seats. Albeit, with a fair audience huddled into the entrance of the adjacent marquee and in the surrounding smaller stalls. Just proving the show must go on!

Also on Sunday, the legendary and probably the most well known baddy of all times, Darth Vader, came into the show to sign books at the book tent, escorted by two of his Stormtroopers. Unfortunately, our plans to conquer the weather for the visit of the Sith Lord failed, along with the plan of getting a shot of him with the fantastic arena display team, The Knights of the Damned. But Dave Prowse MBE, aka Darth Vader, told us:- "I would like to thank the show team for their help. I loved the atmosphere and was disappointed that I could not see more of the event, due to the weather. The efforts of your team to help me around were fantastic. I would love to return and see the full show as it looked truly fantastic. Thank you for letting me and my Stormtroopers attend." ... continued ...

... continued ... Despite the week’s inclement weather, traders, on the whole, were philosophical and hopefully they were able to make a profit over the four days. Thanks to all who provided this Show once again putting Sefton and the North West on the map: To organisers, participants and of course all the background supporters and organisations including the British Red Cross, Police and service providers.  Don't forget to check out our Darth Vader photos, in this edition, as some where taken at the show!  To find out about the last news about the 2013 Southport Flower Show, keep an eye on:-!

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