Bank holiday events go on, whatever the weather

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  • by Stuart Anderson, Ben Fishwick and Clare Semke

The curse of the great British summer may have done its best to wash out the bank holiday but organisers gritted their teeth and did their best to make the events a success.

Menacing-looking dark skies and driving rain did nothing to deter those who had set up shows, fayres and rallies across Portsmouth and south-east Hampshire.

It was a case of stiff upper lips, waterproofs and wellies as people ventured out for various charity events in the area.

Stubbington Fayre, which has been drawing the crowds for more than 40 years, went ahead.

Unfortunately the Donkey Derby and some of the performances including gymnastics were casualties of the bad weather, as it was deemed unsafe for them to go ahead.

Nevertheless, crowds braved the non-stop rain to take in about 120 stalls and admire the Minis and classic cars on display as well as enjoying fairground activities and rides on Tigger the Train.

Christine Asquith had been up since 6.45am yesterday and by 3pm was still staying strong out in the rain.

She said; ‘We’ve enjoyed it. It’s been nice going round. The stall holders have been very, very supportive.’

The event was opened by Mayor of Fareham David Norris.

Fareham borough councillor Arthur Mandry said: ‘To the mayor’s credit he stayed for nearly two hours.

He added: ‘This is the first time in my experience since 1998 that it’s rained all day like this.’

Meanwhile, at Stokes Bay in Gosport the annual car rally – which has now been going for more than 50 years and raises cash for the Mayor of Gosport’s charities – went ahead as planned and attracted more than 20 cars.

They ranged from Ford Cortinas to Land Rovers and 4x4s.

The PA and music was provided by Radio Haslar and organiser Brian Russell was optimistic about future events.

Mr Russell said: ‘You’ve got to be positive. We’ve been going now for 55 years. We have only had to cancel completely once.

‘All in all we have been very, very fortunate.’

He added: ‘Unfortunately a lot of the entrants chose not to turn up. I guess if you’ve got a vintage car in pristine condition the last thing you want to do is take it out in terrible weather.

‘But we’ve got a lot of Ford Cortinas and the biggest class has been the Wessex Off-Roaders – Land Rovers and 4x4s.

‘They do a charitable service as well as attending shows. They are called out in bad weather to take doctors and nurses to hospital and help people.’

At the Emsworth Show, visitors sought refuge from the rain under canvasses and in a marquee, which hosted displays including home-grown horticultural products, craftwork, baking and photography.

Show chairman Colin Falla, 49, of Emsworth, said the show attracted about 2,000 visitors, down from the usual figure of 6,500.

He said: ‘Not as many people turned up as normal, but everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.’

Peter Rogers, 21, of Emsworth, sealed the title of Emsworth Champion Gardener for his collection of veg and flowers.

Mr Rogers said he had been a keen gardener since he was five years old and had 71 entries at the Emsworth Show.

He said: ‘It’s quite a challenge because a lot of growers are either very good with flowers or very good with vegetables, so you have to meet somewhere in the middle.’

Wendda Knapp, 56, of Emsworth, won a ‘World War Two street party’ category for her five of her cupcakes, as well as four other baking awards.

She said: ‘I’m tickled pink because I didn’t win anything last year and now I’ve got five firsts.

‘It was a whole weekend spent baking and the kitchen looks like it was hit by a bomb.’

Emsworth Horticultural Society member Sarah Sanderson said: ‘It’s quite astonishing what people have managed to grow.

‘It really is a phenomenal amount of hard work.’

A Havant Rotary Club tent, a display of birds of prey, vintage cars, and a home-made jam stall were among the attractions. Emsworth couple Val Ottewell, 69, and her husband Colin were among the visitors who went along to the show despite the rain. She said: ‘We were determined to make it because they put so much effort into these shows.’

The South Downs Show drew crowds to Queen Elizabeth Country Park over the weekend to watch sheep herding, falconry and ponies in the main arena.

Keith Nisbet, 49, was with his partner Cheryl Cantrill, 47, and his 14-year-old daughter Mollie-Ann.

The trio, from Clanfield, were out on Saturday with their huge Leonberger German breed dogs Elsi and Baxter.

Keith said: ‘They haven’t held this for a number of years – it’s nice to see it back again.’

Mollie-Ann added: ‘It’s very interesting, there’s a lot of stuff to do.’

Children watched with wonder as falcons soared high in the blue skies before swooping down over the youngster’s heads to attack their prey offered by the birds’ trainers.

Five-year-old Edward Nayler, from Haslemere. Surrey, was in the arena with his sisters Isabel, seven, and Martha, five.

He said: ‘It was good. It flew over my head.’.




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