Kent will be host the British National Ploughing Championships & Country Festival on October 11th and 12th this year. A record crowd is expected to attend this amazing two-day event, which is taking place at Marden, just south of Maidstone.
The National Ploughing Championships are a highlight of the farming year - especially this year when many local ploughing competitions in the country have been forced to take the decision to cancel in the light of the wet summer and late harvest.
Over the last two decades England's ploughing teams have proved to be one of the most successful across the world. Three past World ploughing champions, three past European champions and ten ex-British champions will be taking part in the event this year. The prize they are all chasing? The honour of representing their country in the 2009 World Ploughing Contest, to be held in Slovenia.
Only one lady plougher (or should it be ploughwoman?) is taking part this year - seventeen year-old Debbie Watson from Hallington, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Debbie is one of seventeen young farmers who will be battling for the titles of British Young Farmer's Champion Ploughman on the first day, and also a chance to compete with the other top qualifiers for a chance to take part in the 'plough-off' finals on the second day to find the overall British National Champions.
The event features various styles of ploughing - modern tractors pulling conventional and reversible ploughs; three classes with vintage tractors pulling trailing, hydraulic and classic ploughs, and horse-drawn ploughs. Visitors can see displays and working demonstrations of vintage tractors and machinery dating from the First World War through to the 1960s and an increasingly rare opportunity to see giant steam ploughing tackle at work.
One of the most popular events with spectators is sure to be the heavy horses, which gives visitors the chance to watch the majestic shire horses at work as these magnificently turned out gentle giants evoke by-gone days when farming was an altogether a slower way of life.
With all of this, plus trade stands, machinery demonstrations and craft stalls, the Championships promise to be a rich mixture of rural arts and crafts, and the chance to see the nations top champions in action.
Ken Chappell, Executive Director of the Society of Ploughmen commented: "This really is a world-class event and it will be a fantastic family day-out; it's very difficult to get the message across of what a great day out it can be - children have a unique opportunity to compare farming throughout the ages with heavy horses, steam engines, vintage tractors and the modern day equipment. Some of the older generation can remember these working the fields, and everyone can enjoy the crafts and the huge variety of trade stands and stalls."
The support and enthusiasm from companies, especially in the south of England is running high and trade stand space has been selling out fast. Bookings are already well ahead and the organisers are already planning to extend the area pencilled in for trade stands. Mr Chappell added, "Fortunately the superb site generously provided by Pat Burke and his family is flexible enough to allow this. We should be able to accommodate all those companies who want to come along and augment the ploughing spectacle with one of the biggest and best trade exhibitions for many years."
Main sponsors of the Championships are Goodyear and Firestone and further support has been given by J R Prescott, S Stacey, Gullands Solicitors and Clydesdale Bank.
The Championships will take place on land east of the B2079 road, just south of Marden (off the A229 Maidstone road). It will be well signed from major roads in the vicinity.
Further information can be found on www.ploughmen.co.uk or from the Society of Ploughmen on 01302 852469.
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