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Blooming marvellous! Shrewsbury Flower Show set for grand return after three years

It is three years since Shrewsbury Flower Show graced the Quarry, but tomorrow the event returns with a bang.

Ann Kirkham, Shrewsbury Flower Show floral chairman
Ann Kirkham, Shrewsbury Flower Show floral chairman

Across a packed line-up the event, organised by Shrewsbury Horticultural Society, is making up for lost time, after two years of cancellations due to the Covid pandemic.

Amanda Jones, chair of the show's marketing committee, said there had been huge anticipation ahead of the return, with excitement from visitors, exhibitors, and the event's organisers, Shrewsbury Horticultural Society.

She said: "I think we are all really excited to be back after the last two years.

"The weather might be a little bit too hot but it is fantastic and sunny.

"We have all missed it over the past two years and it has been great to see people again.

"We have a packed show with great exhibitors, wonderful entertainment, food and drink, music, and of course fireworks on both days."

Given the ongoing heatwave the organisers have made special preparations, with dedicated awnings added to the showground to give people shade from sun.

There will also be ten water standpipes set up around the site for people to refill their own bottles with water - with visitors encouraged to take their own bottles to stay hydrated.

The last show in 2019

Among the main attractions will be a mannequin of the Queen covered in fresh flowers.

It is being created by world famous Vancouver-based Fleurs de Villes to show the Queen in her Coronation robes and will help the event to mark not only the Platinum Jubilee but also a spectacular return following two Covid cancellations in 2020 and 2021.

Amanda said: “This stunning Queen Elizabeth II mannequin will be inspired by the official portrait on her Coronation Day in 1953, where the Queen is seated with her coronation cloak swirling around the throne and pooling on to the floor.

“A wide range of natural materials will be used to recreate her cloak, crown, sceptre and jewels ‘en fleurs,’ including pussy willow, berries, assorted foliage and orchids.”

The mannequin will be placed at the Dingle Marquee.

A host of other activities and attractions are also taking place over the course of the show.

The flower show takes up the entire 29 acres of the Quarry, with exhibits, trade stands and entertainment on both days.

This time, the organisers have put together a guide of everything going on, which is available on the event website. This year will be the 133rd running of the event, which has seen up to 30,000 people attend in the past.

Amanda added: “The last two years feel like they never existed and it is lovely to be back and returning to something like normality. There will be lots of fresh air and space.”

Tickets for the event, which is the world’s longest running independent horticultural show, went on sale in June and have been selling well, organisers say. Hot weather is expected as the heatwave continues, and water firms have advised people to save water. However, organisers will need to be able to water the arena,not least for the show-jumping trials. There will also be a Shetland Pony Grand National.

Celebrity gardener Toby Buckland, known for presenting numerous gardening TV shows, including BBC Gardeners’ World and the RHS Chelsea Flower Show coverage, will be on hand to offer advice. He will be joined by Penny Meadmore and David Domoney.

Chef Phil Vickery, a regular on ITV's daytime favourite This Morning, will be demonstrating his cookery skills on both days, along with other local chefs. On Friday evening live music will be by The Ronnies and on Saturday, South African pop star, Amy Jones will take to the stage.

Both days will be topped off with choirs, the massed bands finale and a colourful fireworks display.

General tickets for the days that last from 10am-10pm are £30 for one day per adult. People will be able to come and go as they please, as well as taking picnics and alcohol into the Quarry, say the organisers.

Members of Shropshire Horticultural Society have been advised of changes to the Members’ Restaurant and Members’ Bar this year. Luxury caterers Comyn Bruce and Jimbos Bars will be supplying the food and drink for this year’s show. However, it will be a cashless service and so debit/credit cards will need to be used.

The first ever show was held in 1857, and has only been cancelled rarely due to issues such as Covid and the First and Second World Wars.

Percy Thrower, the famous Shrewsbury gardener, was made parks superintendent at the Quarry in 1946, and played an integral role in creating the park we know today, and developing the flower show into the major event that it is.

In 1970, the show faced disaster when two inches of rain drenched the town. It caused the show to make a loss, plunging it into financial crisis. But Mr Thrower and one or two others stuck their necks out to prop up the show with money and, thankfully, better weather and more profitable shows were to come in the years that followed.

Today’s Shrewsbury Flower Show features floral displays, TV personalities, celebrity chefs, live music and spectacular arena acts, along with numerous craft and food stalls. Each day ends with a massed band finale and a stunning fireworks display.

The show is one of the country’s premier flower show events, attracting top exhibitors from across the UK. It has a small permanent staff and over 100 volunteers who manage and organise the whole event, from traffic flow, marquee and services contracts, publicity and marketing, public safety, catering, entertainment, engaging specialist judges for hundreds of competitive classes.

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