Britain's top ploughmen flock to Kent in the autumn when the 2008 British National Ploughing Championships return to the 'Garden of England' for only the second time in its' fifty-eight year history.
Held in a different part of the country each year, this year's event is taking at Marden, near Tonbridge, Kent on Saturday and Sunday, October 11th and 12th, by kind permission of Mr Pat Burke and family. The Championships were last held in Kent on land adjacent to Leeds Castle in 1997.
Over 200 acres will be home for the weekend to more than 150 top ploughmen from all over Britain, including past World and European champions. At stake - the British national titles for the ultimate winners.
The two days are packed with competitions for many different styles of ploughing and different types of plough, from the graceful horse ploughing of bygone years to today's sophisticated tractors and ploughs. The ultimate prize of the Championships is to represent England at the 2009 World Ploughing Contest in Slovenia, a prize that goes to the winners of the conventional and reversible classes.
The organisers of the event, the Society of Ploughmen, expect an exceptional crowd over the two days and already many companies, both national and local, are supporting the championships by demonstrating, exhibiting or by providing sponsorship. Main sponsors are Goodyear and Bridgestone/Firestone.
Executive Director of the Society of Ploughmen, Ken Chappell said, "Already the Championships have attracted lots of attention and we are looking forward to a first class event. There is tremendous interest and support both in the immediate area and surrounding counties and clearly the decision to bring the event back to Kent was a good one. Pat Burke and his family have provided a superb site and the event will be a great day out for all the family!"
Visitors will see not only the highly skilled competition ploughing and an extensive trade stand area but also attractions such as vintage tractors, ploughs and equipment; a craft marquee with a wide variety of stands; and working demonstrations of the latest tractors, farm machinery and equipment.
One of the major "family" attractions will be the horse ploughing with heavy horses at work each day. Magnificently turned out with ornate brass and leather harness, these true farm 'workhorses' will be seen competing to produce the best general purpose ploughing on the first day and the stylish traditional 'high cut' work on the second day. On the first day, ploughmen - including young farmers - will parade to their plots and compete in four classes - either the practical reversible ploughing most commonly used today or the more traditional conventional style. The qualifying ploughmen will go through to the finals on the second day to find the national champions of the two styles and the 2009 World Contest contenders.
On the second day, lovers of classic machinery and equipment will enjoy three classes for vintage tractor ploughing - using trailed, hydraulic and classic ploughs - with area champions competing for the honour of being the British Vintage Champion Ploughman.
Access to the site is easy. It is located east of the B2079 road, just south of Marden (off the A229 Maidstone road). The Championships will be signposted from all major routes.
Further information can be obtained from the Society of Ploughmen at www.ploughmen.co.uk or by telephone 01302 842469.
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