Blog: Behind the Scenes at Waddesdon Country Fair
Have you ever wondered what it takes to organise an outdoor show? Well, Oakleigh Fairs gives us a behind the scenes glimpse into the planning and preparation that goes into one of this summer’s food and countryside events.
So, everyone is looking forward to our Country Show taking place in the grounds of beautiful Waddesdon Manor nestling in the heart of the rolling Buckinghamshire countryside over the weekend of 9 & 10 August, but what actually goes on ‘back-stage’ to deliver a Show like this? Well, to start with a lot of planning, paperwork and general paraphernalia (and very few clipboards and radios).
Initial planning actually took place over 2 years ago when we were first in discussion with the National Trust (who manage the property on behalf of the Rothschild Family) to discuss the feasibility of running this type of event at the venue. We run around 30 Country Shows, Food festivals and high-end Art, Craft & Design Shows all over the UK every year ( www.oakleighfairs.co.uk/events), but are constantly on the look-out for possible new sites to add to our roster – and Waddesdon ticked all the boxes in terms of its marketability to both potential stallholders, exhibitors and of course the general public who will make up our visitors, as well as having a show site ie a really a large flat piece of ground relatively close to the house itself but vital of course to site the show with basic amenities for us to use – in actual fact access to water...everything else we bring in with us – power, loos, marquees, tables, chairs, electric cables etc etc – you name it, our crew, pack it!
Once the site has been agreed, we then start looking at the type of entertainment that would work for the site and acts, entertainers, rural demonstrators, children’s fairground and all the other colour and interest that all contribute to a really good day out – which is what we are hoping to deliver. And of course we start booking in all of our stallholders, trade stands and other exhibitors.
And so continues the planning as well as the paperwork – informing all the blue light and other authorities that the event is taking place, gaining all the relevant licenses, booking in the loos and the generators...
And then starts the build-up to the show itself – marketing and advertising material is designed and booked in and the momentum starts to build and build...
Until finally it is show week and the vehicles start to get loaded, electrics are checked and re-checked, uniforms are searched for (vehicle checking – again...) and washed and our animals are all given health-checks and all their pens and enclosures are all washed and tidied before everybody sets off to site.
And then you realise that half the guinea pigs that are used for the Children’s Petting Pen have mysteriously escaped from their pen via a very small gap and have all gone to play in the wood-pile. So all staff are called back in and the guinea pig hunt commences – much to the excitement of the Terrier Racing Team who are VERY keen to assist, but of course kept well out of the way in their kennels and the Birds of Prey for the display are looking suitably hawk-eyed and helpful – but only from the safety of their aviaries...but all are soon rounded up and after quick pat and a cuddle ready to head off.
So everyone arrives on site and the fence panels go up and the marquees are all erected and from a plain empty site comes a lovely tented ‘village’, with an arena or two surrounded by all sorts of interesting side shows, stands and exhibits.
It’s also time to give the demo kitchen a final once over and polish up all of the chrome, test the ovens and fridges before we can unleash our Masterchef Ondine Hartgroves onto it – who will be cooking up a storm throughout the weekend – giving both the gastronome as well as the amateur cook some real tips from the top
Saturday morning arrives (warm and sunny of course – but even if not, there is tons to do and see whatever the weather) and the SHOW GOES ON!!