The county’s favourite family Easter event, the Norfolk Spring Fling, celebrates 20 years with its biggest ever line-up of activities and events at the Norfolk Showground on Thursday 11 April.
Created in 2000, after a request by former Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) chairman, Henry Cator, for the region’s farming industry to find new ways to connect with children and their families, the Norfolk Spring Fling has grown to become a regular sell-out event.
First held in April 2000 and aimed at youngsters under the age of 12, it attracted about 900 visitors, two dozen stands run by volunteer stewards and helpers. Two decades on, with its friendly ‘see, touch, feel’ approach, the event now welcomes over 6,000 visitors and features over 70 stands, activities and experiences including animal shows, tractor rides, and science and craft activities.
Looking back over the past two decades, the RNAA’s chief executive, Greg Smith is extremely proud of what the event has achieved. “The Norfolk Spring Fling has become a family staple in Norfolk’s Easter calendar, but we’re seeing more and more visitors coming from outside the county as a result of its growing popularity. It was the first event of its kind in the UK and started a movement, now joined by many other agricultural associations who are all passionate, as we are, about promoting food, farming and the countryside.
“None of this would have been possible though without the inspiration of the founders and the support and help of hundreds of volunteers over the past 20 years. Farmers, food producers, conservation and environmental bodies, charities, scientists and biologists and many others have lent their precious time to the event, with the single aim of creating a unique fun, learning, experience for all.”
Visitors to this year’s Norfolk Spring Fling will experience a bigger event than ever before with seven different zones – The Machinery Zone, Mr Mawkin’s Farm, Countryside Arena, Plant and Grow Zone, Hands-on Learning, Heavy Horses and Emergency Services Zone.
Event attractions include rare breeds, lamb feeding, fly-fishing, bird of prey shows, exotic animals, scientific experiments, horse braiding, animal handling, rescue demonstrations, sausage and ice cream making, tractor and trailer rides, storytelling, sheep dog displays and the ever-popular dancing sheep in the Sheep Show.
New for 2019 will be a farmers’ market selling everything from pastries to popcorn to sweets and sausages, with exhibitors showcasing a wide range of delicious local produce which you can try before you buy. There will also be a range of food and drink outlets around the showground offering a variety of food to keep visitors going throughout the day.
Tony Bellinger, Education Manager with the Food and Farming Discovery Trust, who work with the RNAA, says this year’s event will be particularly exciting.
“The Norfolk Spring Fling has grown in recent years and 2019 will be no different. Visitors will enjoy bigger zones, more activities, more space and a greater array of food and drink options including a farmers’ market and improved picnic areas.
“Plus, whether it’s going on a tractor ride, watching a live show or taking part in one of the many hands-on experiences, all the activities are included in the entry price.
“We’re expecting another sell-out success, so we would like to encourage families to buy tickets early.”
Greg Smith added, “We are very grateful for the generosity of many sponsors including the Felix Cobbold Trust, The Clan Trust, Chadacre Agricultural Trust and G W Daniels and Sons in supporting the Norfolk Spring Fling and helping the RNAA to promote food, farming and the countryside.”
Ticket prices have been frozen at £9.50 per person and can only be bought in advance online from www.springfling.rnaa.org.uk. Children aged two and under are free, but please remember to download under two tickets when purchasing full price tickets. Children must be accompanied by a responsible adult. The Norfolk Spring Fling is open from 9.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.