Kent County Show boss George Jessel who weathered storm steps down
by business editor Trevor Sturgess
The farmer who defied expert advice to insist last
year's rain-soaked county show must go on bows out today.
George Jessel, pictured right, has stepped down as chairman
of show organisers Kent County Agricultural Society after six years
in the job.
Last year, his defining image was standing in several inches of
mud in his Gucci shoes explaining to the media why the quagmire car
park had been shut.
But he refused to abort the show as the rain continued to fall
and visitors either turned away or parked their cars alongside the
The terrible weather hit visitor numbers and takings, with the
2012 show making a record £612,000 loss. Visitor numbers fell to
Although 2012 was not his anticipated "glorious finale", Mr
Jessel said he is going out on a high.
"If you haven't heard of the Kent Show now, you never will," he
said. "Because I have spent the last six years promoting it."
He was the first KCAS chairman in 80 years to face a leadership
challenge, triggered by his determination to modernise the KCAS,
the county show and the Detling showground.
He had also hoped to attract the US Olympic equestrian team to a
He saw off the challenge and spearheaded the completion of the
Clive Emson Conference Centre and plans for a £4m facelift for the
Muddy car parks at the
Kent County Show last year
Mr Jessel says despite falling visitor numbers, the
county show still has a good future.
"But the formula has to change and we have to keep adapting to
modern day principles."
He believes it should remain a three-day show, with agriculture
at its heart.
Financially, it should aim to break even, supported by
increasing revenue from other events. "We do not want to follow the
pattern of the Royal Show, which went bust."
He said he is sorry to be leaving, although he introduced the
rule that the KCAS chairman should step down after two three-year
"I do have regrets that I'm going, but it's very important that
comes in now with new eyes, new ideas and fresh enthusiasm."
He is succeeded by Kevin Attwood, a farmer and KCAS director