The weather at Holbeach wasn't quite as hot as last year, but very good, just the same. We arrived around the same time as 2017 but were pitched a little bit further down so couldn't rediscover the awning pegs we had to leave behind last year. The small line up of displays were pretty much the same, however, we were shocked to hear of the passing of Keith Walker, known to many as "The Volvo Man" taken far too young in his mid-forties.
On to brighter things and it was good to see the trade stalls out in the open, rather than tucked away behind machinery. With two long lines of decent sized deep pitches and half of them at least on the main walkway into the site from the car-park, Holbeach is finally giving them a chance to do well. The craft tent was also well populated and to be fair, Roffes' catering facilities was also pulling out the stops to provide everything bar the fish and chips. There was a major change to the layout which meant the stationary engines moved up from the bottom of the field to the road end and bordered 2 sides of the field up there, relegating the commercials and associated classic campers down to the bottom in front of the camping area.
Not sure if this suited everyone but as least it was tried. There was the usual banter amongst the engine men, with more than a little leg-pulling that I heard drift across the field, particularly on Friday night from the corner plots! As remarked last year, the show clashes on Sunday with the Bourne Classic Car rally but again numbers didn't really suffer with as many if not more cars coming on Sunday as in Saturday. They did move slightly more up-field on Sunday to fill out the space a little, with the benefit of not having so far to walk to the stalls etc.
The motorcycle section seems to be recovering a little with a good selection of machines on show. Tractors and steam seemed to be pretty much the same as last year, with some new liaisons forged that maybe bond the two together. However, there did seem a lot of gaps in the tractor line-up when I walked around them Sunday afternoon. Horticultural displays were not as many in numbers, but the machinery was pretty much the same with a mixture of pedestrian, Ransomes crawlers and small full-size machines like the Trusty and Garners.
The organisers had arranged for a dog show this year, which looked like it proved quite popular with the animals' owners, but the secondary ring used for this and dog agility was quite close to the main ring only a few yards away. To my mind, when you're shelling out for the Peterborough Highland Pipe Band and your main ring is not fully utilised, I could not see why they couldn't have performed in the main ring, unless of course, it was their decision not to. I'm not sure a show of this size can sustain two entertainment rings.
There were one or two sporadic exhibit placements that didn't really make a lot of sense, but all in all, the trade stand placement is a huge step forward, and I commend the committee for the work in rebuilding after mass resignations a couple of years back. Many of the old hands are still interested enough to come back on board in various guises, however, young blood is always needed but it's a fine balance between thinking you know it all and fecking the job up all too quickly, and respecting knowledge and wisdom from those that have been involved in organising such events for a long while. Build on the experience held and take it forward to next year.