The Sandy Show returns this year - why not show off your skills?

'We have risen from the ashes and we are looking forward to getting things going again'

By Joanna Gravett
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 4:36 pm
Updated Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 4:39 pm

The Sandy Show is coming back with a bang in 2022 as organisers hope to revive the town's famous tradition.

The event was last held in 2019, but with Covid-19 and the closure of Sandye Place, it hasn't been able to run for the past two years and had to find a new home.

The community is now invited to the Conservative Club, Bedford Road, on Saturday, September 3, to view an array of crafts, fruits, vegetables, flowers and more, as talented locals can display their hard work.

Top The Golden Jubilee 2016: SDHA commitee (left to right) Steve Purchase (Association Secretary), Mick Gordine, Andrew Havergal (Chairman), Will Jackson, Val Gordine, Rosemary Munns, (the late) Tony Munns, John Bray (Treasurer), Lynda Scott (Membership Secretary, Kay Eldred (Minutes Secretary), Nigel Aldis, Hayley Stewart (Show Manager) and Pete Messenger. Michael Scott (President) and Shamus Burtenshaw (Assistant Show Manager) were present but involved in other duties at the time of the presentations, so not in picture. Photo: SDHA Bottom: The Sandy Show 1940s. Photo: the estate of George Stevington.

Meanwhile, budding competitors have until 12 noon on Thursday, September 1, to enter.

Steve Purchase, former association secretary, said: "We are back and very much looking forward to the show after Covid and the loss of the venue, and encourage everyone to come along, particularly now that Covid restrictions have been reduced.

"We are expecting lots of people to come and lots of people to enter. We hope it will be a great success!"

The show was founded in 1868 when it was decided that "in order to put Sandy on the map" there should be an event to showcase its reputation for market gardens.

Golden Jubilee 2016. Photo: SDHA.

It was considered a success, so in 1869, the Sandy Horticultural and Floral Society was formed.

The event was held on the last Friday of August, until 1893, when the day was changed to the last Thursday in August in order to allow shop workers to attend the show on their half

day off.

Steve said: "The show grew and grew. Certainly before the First World War, around 1912 or thereabouts, there were special trains up from London and more than 10,000 people turned up to see the show.

The show committee, pre 1918. Used by kind permission of Sandy Historical Research Group Archive.

"It was known throughout the Eastern region and the Midlands.

"After the Second World War people got back into the swing of things, and of course, there was 'Dig for Victory' [so they could showcase these skills]."

The event continued after World War Two from 1946 until 1953, and was revived again in 1966 at Sandye Place, with the Sandy and District Horticultural Association (SDHA) formed in 1965.

It had been held there ever since its inception in 1868, apart from 1891 - when it was held at The Cricket Ground, Sandy, owing to the death of Mr J. N. Foster of Sandye Place - and once during the 1920s when a huge storm the night before meant it was swiftly relocated to Hawkesbury Meadow, Tempsford Road.

A postcard of The Sandy Show, around 1906.

A Short History of the Sandy Show states: "It wrecked many tents and stands, including that holding the Rabbit Show. Many rabbits took advantage of the breakdown in security and

escaped into nearby Pyms Woods."

In 1979 and 1980 the show was held in the old Civil Defence Hall, London Road, and from 1981 to 1997 the event, now held over two days, was located at Bickerdike's Nursery in London Road, before returning to Sandye Place in 1998.

It also marked its landmark Golden Jubilee in 2016.

The History states: "While the association continues striving to preserve the tradition of horticultural, cookery, brewing and handicraft exhibits in its shows, in recent years the number of classes has increased and changed in order to recognise that there are younger entrants to encourage.

"With the help of Sandy Library, the show has been able to engage with children in Sandy in order to enter specific classes, 'just for them'".

Judging the Fruit 1950. Photo: the estate of George Stevington.

Steve said: "We've still got 140 different classes from fruit and veg to flowers, soft handicraft, hard handicraft, cooking and brewery.

"We have risen from the ashes and we are looking forward to getting things going again."

The current SDHA chairman is Andrew Havergal and there will be additional special guests to present the trophies.

For more information about the show and how to enter, visit the website, follow the association on Twitter or visit the Facebook page.

Mr E H Taylor Judging the Honey c1952. Photo: the estate of George Stevington.