Lucy and The Chap head to the coast for a day out at Holkham Country Fair. Featuring Pony Club Games, parachutes and puppies, here’s what to expect on your visit
Tickets were gifted in return for a review
Having grown up on the outskirts of London, I’m not really au fait with country life. However, having taken a trip to the Royal Norfolk Show a couple of years ago, I was most looking forward to attending Holkham Country Fair. From what I could tell, it would be filled with food, drink, shopping and lots of dogs. Excellent.
We got to Holkham Hall just before the event officially opened at midday and sailed into a parking space a short walk from the Vice-President’s Tent. I was pleasantly surprised by how accessible the parking seemed; it was mostly flat and even.
Top tip: I’d recommend getting tickets for The Vice-President’s Tent. It’s a great place to spend the day, with its own seating area, bar and bathrooms – as well as shelter from the rain!
Entertainment at Holkham Country Fair
As in previous years, the event began with The Poppy Parachute Display Team, who whizzed into The Grand Ring just after midday. The commentator gave a fascinating rundown of the team’s manoeuvres and safety procedures as they descended. It’s thrilling to watch their parachutes open as they spin and twirl down to earth.
This was immediately followed by The City of Norwich Pipe Band. Playing classic bagpipe music, as well as more popular tunes, it was a great soundtrack to the first part of the show.
The entertainment continued throughout both days of the show. I was pleased to catch Atkinson Action Horses in The Grand Ring after lunch on Saturday. I saw them perform at Horse of the Year Show a couple of years ago and really admire the trainers’ control of the horses. They ask the horses bow and lay down with mere gestures and body language. It’s fascinating to watch.
The Pony Club Games took place for much of the rest of the afternoon. Even though I’m not even slightly equestrian minded, it’s great fun. It’s hard not to cheer on the riders as they perform feats of skill and speed on horseback.
While we were watching these events, an aerobatic display by Steve Carter went on overhead. I will admit that there were times when my heart was in my mouth. Watching the light aircraft climb vertically into the clouds before cutting the engine and spinning back to a horizontal plane was terrifying/incredible.
I also found time to stop by and watch Richard Savory and The Sheep Show. I’ve heard a lot about Savory over the years but have never seen his show in real life. I have to say, he lived up to expectation. He’s got great stage presence stage and is genuinely funny. Everyone was laughing out loud at his dancing sheep.
Like all good county shows, Holkham Country Fair has a huge retail village. It featured all the usual suspects (Joules and Rydel, I’m looking at you), along with lots of small traders and crafters.
Monster & Fox really stood out for me. I was drawn into the Norfolk brand’s stall because of their logo. You’ve guessed it: It’s a fox and a Westie. The illustrations on their products (t-shirts, bags, customers, cups etc) are fun and unique. The Chap and I got chatting to the owner, Tigger, and totally fell in love with their products. I ended up spending far more than I intended, buying a hoodie and teacup emblazoned with a whale. There might also be a few other bits I have my eye on…
There were lots of opportunities to get hands-on throughout the fair with clay-pigeon shooting and archery, as well as dog agility sessions on offer.
The Chap and I were feeling brave and headed for the funfair and took a ride on the Ferris Wheel, no less. I thought it would be a gentle way to see Holkham Country Fair from above. How wrong could I be? It was far higher and far faster than it seemed on the ground. I was clinging to the bar for dear life.*
All in all, we had a fantastic day in the sunshine, walking thousands of steps. I’m just gutted I didn’t get to the food and drink village. Maybe next time…
*Full disclaimer: It wasn’t that bad. I’m just a chicken!