We were recently invited to attend the Nottinghamshire County Show. It’s a show that I’ve never been to before so I was keen to attend and review it as a family day out. I always thought it took place near Nottingham. It is actually in Newark at their showground which is even better for us as it’s really easy to get to from Lincolnshire. In fact, it was easier than a visit to the Lincolnshire showground up near Lincoln.
Our Day Out to the Nottinghamshire County Show
Let me start by saying that we had a really fun day out. The show wasn’t too big or too busy to walk around which was perfect for smaller legs. It also meant that we had more time to explore everything without feeling that we had to rush on to the next thing.
We were given a handy map, when we arrived, which showed where everything was located. You could also buy a bigger guide with more information and photos. The free guide was enough for us. It was really easy arriving at the showground and we were parked up without queueing and it was a relatively easy walk to the entrance.
There was so much to see and do in a relatively (only to some other shows we’ve been to) small area. The map also had all the timings for events over the weekend. There was a main ring (the biggest ring with all the main events of the day, an Eastwood ring (horses), a countryside ring (a small but more family-orientated ring) and a music marquee. Plus other horse demonstrations and cookery demos. They also had two Highways England demonstrations (rescue services and road laying).
I’ll confess I’m not a massive fan of horses. So when I first saw the map I was a little concerned by the large amount of space given to horses and horse events. Although they do have 3 rings there is so much more to do elsewhere that it didn’t actually feel like it was all about the horses. What they did have there was actually very interesting. We spent some time watching the show jumping. My son had never seen this before so it was fascinating to him and he loved watching the horses jump over all manner of jumps.
We also saw some horses pulling carts which was lovely to see and we were especially taken with a gorgeous miniature horse pulling a cart. As we were leaving we also caught some of the heavy horse demonstration which was interesting to watch.
The one thing that struck me about this show was the amount of demonstrations going on. No matter where you were there always seemed to be something to watch. We turned up at the tractors expecting to see a few tractors. There was actually a tractor for virtually every farm job plus demonstrations on how they collect and bail hay with some of the more traditional old-style tractors. This was apparently Jamie’s favourite thing to watch of the whole day. He was fascinated by it collecting the straw and producing a bale of hay after a minute or so.
One thing that struck us in this area wasn’t just the noise coming from the tractor demonstrations but the noise from something else much louder. It turned out to be a man carving wooden sculptures using a chainsaw! As you do!
Cars and Other Transport
Right next to the tractors they also had many vintage and modern cars to look at. We were especially taken with an old police car.
There was a couple at the show displaying their collection of Sport Jaguars. One of their cars is currently undergoing a quest for entry into the Guinness world records. The owners are covering the car with stickers which people can donate money to sign their name on. All funds go to a children’s charity. It was a nice idea and Jamie had a great time sitting in the driver’s seat.
There were also other forms of transportation on display including a few military vehicles, there was even a tank.
They had a few traditional fairground rides such as a merry-go-round, helter-skelter, mini wheel and more. Plus a couple more modern rides and a bouncy castle. We paid £2.50 to ride a horse on the merry-go-round together and £3 for a go on the bouncy castle. They were perhaps a little steep in price. I prefer to see rides like this priced at £1.50-2.00. The merry-go-round was quite possibly the fastest we’ve ever been on, it also lasted for ages!
This show focused more on cows than sheep. It is possible that it was sheep on the Sunday and cows on the Saturday though. Jamie was rather taken with many of the cows and loved walking amongst them. There seemed to be no rules as to how close you could get to these creatures.
They had all sorts of breeds there and most of them seemed to be there waiting to be judged. Also on-site, we found poultry, which you could actually purchase to take home with you. Plus a rabbit that Jamie spent about 10 minutes stroking and our all-time favourite – the giant tortoises.
The same charity was at the Lincolnshire show last year. There was £1 to go in and stroke the tortoises. This year in Newark it was £2. It’s a good charity to donate to though and it quite honestly made my son’s day. He loved being in there with them all, at one point he was even crawling alongside one under a canopy. The owners are very passionate and we were shown how a tortoise can eat an apple even though they have no teeth. They are truly fascinating creatures and it’s an honour to be allowed to be so close to them.
If you’re visiting as a family it’s well worth finding Rand Farm. They are often at the shows in this area and they always bring along some adorable animals that you are allowed to stroke. For this show, they had goats with their kids, sheep with their lambs, 2 gorgeous donkeys and chickens with their chicks. Plus a few more characters.
The Main Ring
The entertainment was almost non-stop in the main ring. They had 12 events during the Saturday of our visit. There were many displays including birds of prey, heavy horses and more. We saw the Atkinson action horses which were thoroughly entertaining and mesmerising. It was amazing to see the stunts and tricks that they and their horses perform for films and television.
We also caught the YFC lawn mower racing which was actually a bit confusing as to what on earth was going on. However, we loved it and made up our own rules and winners.
The Countryside Ring
The countryside was a lot more intimate and more suited to families with younger children. It was a lot more fun for the kids as they were a lot closer to the action. We saw a bird of prey demo plus the famous Dog and duck show. It was hilarious and they invited quite a few children up to help out.
Often we’ve been to shows where you can’t sit on the fire engines or they are the old-style engines which I have to say are no longer quite as fascinating as what we saw at the Nottinghamshire county show. They had 3 large fire engines parked up and they had opened all the hatches and doors so that you could see all of their equipment.
There were plenty of friendly firefighters waiting to show the kids around and let them turn on the flashing lights. Jamie sat in the back with all the equipment and in the driver’s seat. He was in his element.
He was beyond desperate to sit in a police car. In fact, he wasn’t interested in the police quad bike even though I’d told him that it would be the most fun. He also wouldn’t believe me that the inside of a police car was just like the inside of our car. But his face was a picture when he was sat in it. The officer also let him turn on the lights. Oh my goodness he was there for ages turning them on and off. They also later did a demonstration on how all the emergency services deal with a crashed car. There was also a road laying demo in this area later in the day.
Other things we enjoyed
There was an aisle of food stalls which was great fun to walk down and oh so very tempting. Plus many other interesting stalls. A lot of them had complimentary sweets, balloons, flags or stickers for the kids or things that they could join in with. Jamie spent ages sitting in a canoe on the grass paddling away. He’d never been in one before but his paddling action was spot on.
Another stall we enjoyed was a farming charity for kids. They had lots of fun interactive displays such as a magnetic maze, driving a combine harvester and throwing bean bags in holes. All of the activities related to farming in some way.
Aldi also had a really fun football area with different football challenges. Such as kicking a football into a trolley for points and scoring goals through holes. The best thing about this area for us was the free oranges and strawberries.
I can 100% honestly state that we had a fabulous and very fun day out at the Nottinghamshire County show. There was so much more to it than I was expecting. It provided constant entertainment and things to see and do.
Disclaimer: We were invited to review the show and provided with complimentary tickets. As always all thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.