The annual Chatsworth Country Fair marks three spectacular days attracting hundreds of thousands to the Chatsworth Estate, dubbed 'palace of the Peaks' is situated in the heart of the idyllic Peak District. Highlighted on any countryman (or woman's) calendar, the event brings together the very best of quintessential British in one breathtakingly beautiful landscape; from country pursuits and rural crafts to artisan food and spectacular grand ring entertainment. Celebrating 35 years of the country fair, it marks a special occasion for Chatsworth. The honorary country fair president this year was Olympic Medalist Jessica Ennis-Hill who opened the event alongside the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. The country fair also played host to the wonderful Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood from BBC's Great British Bake Off program providing eager audiences with delicious demonstrations within the AGA Rangemaster theatre.
Country fairs or agricultural shows are a firm part of British heritage as is the land is apart of the farmer. These types of fairs or shows exhibit the equipment, animals, sports and recreation associated with agriculture and animal husbandry and can be dated back as far as 1768. Chatsworth is one of Britain's most spectacular outdoor events showcasing the very best and provides a true taste of the countryside. In 1986 BBC launched Domesday, 900 years after William the Conqueror's Domesday Book, which was an ambitious project aiming to record everyday life across the United Kingdom for future generations. An entry can be located for the Chatsworth country fair in 1986 which reads: "The fair is held each year, the first weekend in September. It attracts about 50,000 visitors from both town and country and enables them to watch and partake in all the variety of activities enjoyed in the countryside today. (1) Field Events take place mainly round the outer area of the Park and include Sheep Dog Trials, Gundog Demonstrations, Clay Pigeon Shooting, Falconry, Horse Driving, Archery and Fly Fishing. (2) The Main Ring has a continual showing of events. (3) Trade Stands sell all the various equipment and clothing used by the country sportsman. Large marquees also display many country crafts such as wood carving, glass engraving, needlework, flower arranging and pottery." Today, the country fair attracts over 90,000 visitors, growing each year and including more attractions, traders and country pursuits alike.
It was lovely speaking to Jessica Ennis-Hill and it is clear to see that she is down-to-Earth, has a good sense of humour and is a great role model alike. We chatted about blogging and posed for photographs. Jessica Ennis-Hill has long since had an affection for Chatsworth estate, “I have always loved visiting Chatsworth – it is such a beautiful venue with the most amazing grounds. It is not far from home and when I get a day off I often visit for a walk and relax. Now I have a little boy I enjoy visiting the adventure play area with him and we always pop into the farm shop on the way home for a few bits of local produce.”
Jessica Ennis-Hill joins a distinguished list of fair presidents from BBC Countryfile presenter and farmer Adam Henson, England cricketer Michael Vaughan, BBC gardening presenter Alan Titchmarsh, IAAF President Sebastian Coe and Olympic rower and former Red Sock Matthew Pinsent CBE.
Eva Humphries of Wholefood Warrior (pictured left) and BANT registered nutritional therapist whipped up some delicious smoothies using fresh, whole produce and poured them into vintage mini milk bottles and added a paper straw for a finishing touch showcasing just how easy it is to create healthy, nutritious and tasty food. Inspired by the British countryside, the ingredients in the smoothie was a reflection of this incorporating, blackberries, blueberries, chard, apple, sunflower seeds and oat milk.
As there is so much to do during the three days, I decided to separate the days into "themes" spending day one immersed in the entertainment and displays within the grand ring, day two exploring the food stalls and watching demonstrations and day three exploring the traders and rural craft marquees. There is so much to see and do, you almost start wishing you had extra limbs and eyes to explore everything at the fair.
Basking the in golden sunshine at the grand ring, audiences are treated to a variety of awe-inspiring entertainment from the Household Calvary and Band of the Corps of Royal Engineers to Mounted Games Association of Great Britain and the spectacular Red Arrows display to name a few. With "ohh's" and "ahh's" from the captivated audience, Chatsworth really know how to put on a show whilst keeping to the countryside and agricultural roots.
Weather you are from town or country, the Chatsworth country fair offers something for everyone of any age. As well as the grand ring, there is entertainment all throughout the fair grounds from country pursuits such as dog and gun and clay pigeon shooting to archery and fly-fishing, furthermore the showground with carnival coloured carrousel, helter skelter and ferris wheel is perfect for the younger visitors.
In true style, the British Red Arrows dazzled the crowds with their aerobatic displays; swirling, diving and even making a heart shape. Flying distinctive Hawk jets, the Red Arrows represent speed, agility and precision. Receiving a roaring round of applause, it's not hard to see why they are one of the world's premier aerobatic display teams.
The Duke of Devonshire commented: “We’ve seen some wonderful performances including the Household Cavalry and, of course, the Red Arrows, and we’ve been delighted to have Jessica Ennis-Hill as Country Fair President. They’re all great ambassadors for our country and I’m sure the thousands of visitors who have been here for the past few days have enjoyed seeing them as much as we have.”
Day two of the country fair will be posted shortly but in the mean time, relax with a cup of tea (or hot chocolate) and watch the highlights from this year's Chatsworth country fair (credit: Switch Films).