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Do you remember the Kent County Show through these pictures through the years?

It's one of the biggest events staged in Kent each summer, attracting some 80,000 people but this weekend, the show for the Kent County Show's 91st outing would have gone on, but for the coronavirus outbreak.

Known for its livestock parades and showcase of all things Kentish from food and drink to farming, it's a staple in the farming community each year, as well as for many thousands of visitors wanting a family day out, usually in the sunshine.

On parade at the Kent County Show
On parade at the Kent County Show

Though this year's event has been cancelled, organisers, who this week have been sharing their favourite memories on social media using #KentShowGoesOn, are already working on plans for next year.

On the day the show would have opened its gates at the Kent Showground in Detling, near Maidstone, we take a look back at the show's history and some of its favourite sights over the years.

The first Kent County Show was held at Wombwell Park in Gravesend - the mayor at the time declaring it “the greatest advertisement the town had been privileged to enjoy.”

Winston Churchill visited the Kent County Show in Mote Park, Maidstone
Winston Churchill visited the Kent County Show in Mote Park, Maidstone

Organisers the Kent County Agricultural Society - formed in 1923 by a group of farmers and land owners - agreed that constructing shows on the park site had been a monumental task, so they acquired land for a permanent home - now the Kent Showground at Detling, near Maidstone.

Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy, declared the new showground open on Wednesday, July 15, 1964, with prayers by the Right Reverend Bishop of Maidstone.

It had been staged in a variety of locations over the years before moving to its new permanent home, where it has been ever since.

The layout with large rings for arena events proved popular, with a continuous programme of events, along with agricultural machinery stands welcoming visitors.

In 1972, Princess Anne visited, competing on horseback while, in 1979, the show’s golden anniversary coincided with the Silver Jubilee, and it was held over three days.

There have also been many high profile visitors from Winston Churchill at Mote Park, to the Queen and other royal visitors. BBC Countryfile filmed back in 2015, with presenters Adam Henson, Matt Baker, Ellie Harrison and Tom Heap.

Here are some of the famous and royal faces that have put in an appearance over the years...

The Queen also gets a taste of the show every year as tradition decrees that the cherries named best in show are sent to her to taste.

Cherries on displa Picture: Andy Payton
Cherries on displa Picture: Andy Payton

Livestock are one of the key features of the show, with carefully-groomed prize cattle, sheep, pigs and other animals vying for the rosettes.

Showgoers have been able to see the animals resting between judging and parades in recent years, both in the main areas and also in the Young Farmers' areas where schools with farms across the country bring their teams who have worked tirelessly on their charges each year.

Besides the daily livestock parades, a regular highlight for visitors is the Sheep Show, which has been coming back to the show for more than a decade.

The woolly stars have names, personalities and... moves. They do the “sheep shuffle" for the crowds and one also gets shorn.

Here's some of the animal highlights over the years...

Thousands of visitors bring their well-behaved dogs to the show too - and some brave ones also take on the dock jumping (while others think they're brave until they're faced with crowds and the water.)

In tribute to the many dogs who have braved the jump over the years here's a few contenders...

The show first hosted the 25m poles for the Husqvarna 25m UK Pole Climbing Championships back in 2014, and have brought them back each year, while arena highlights over the years have included showjumping, cossacks on horseback in 2019, and motorbike stunt riders.

The Bolddog Lings Motorcycle Display team perform in 2011 Picture: Andy Payton
The Bolddog Lings Motorcycle Display team perform in 2011 Picture: Andy Payton

Besides the animals, music and arena events, which included merriment, there are also some laughs to be had with one guest who always proves a draw when he arrives.

With his showbiz-style entrance Titan the Robot has been wowing the crowds ever since he first arrived more than a decade ago.

For unsuspecting visitors meeting him for the first time, it can be an eye watering experience...

Tradition is as much a part of the Kent County Show as hay bales and one tradition which has been going for 16 years is a very wartime sound overhead. The Spirit of Kent Spitfire has been staging a flypast at intervals across the weekend for 16 years, with Robin Brooks providing the commentary.

The Spirit of Kent Spitfire would have been flying overhead this weekend
The Spirit of Kent Spitfire would have been flying overhead this weekend

The Spitfire is not the only airborne highlight of the show over the years. The RAF's Red Arrows staged some breathtaking flypasts overhead back in 2015 as one of the main highlights of that year's show.

The weather has always been a clincher for the show - this weekend would have seen sunny skies for the 91st event of its kind. Back in 2012 rain led to a washout for the show, with cars stuck in muddy car parks, and big changes on the organisational front and managers making water-tight wet weather contingency plans.

And finally the show would not be one of the biggest events in the county without the thousands who go along each year...

After taking the "extremely difficult" decision to cancel this year, next year's show will take place at the Kent Showground from Friday, July 9 to Sunday, July 11, 2021.

Organisers the Kent County Agricultural Society said: "The Kent County Agricultural Society takes pride in supporting the county’s farming and rural communities. We may not be running the show this year, but we will continue to support Kent’s agricultural and farming communities where we can and will work hard to see the Kent County Show return in 2021."

To find out more for next year go to kentshowground.co.uk

For more days out across Kent this summer click here.


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