RECORD crowds were welcomed on a super sunny day at the Autumn Show and Game Fair, which took place at the South of England Showground.

The showground in Ardingly was buzzing with visitors of all ages, many accompanied by their dogs.

Attractions included dog agility, terrier racing, gundog scurries, clay pigeon shooting, fly fishing, falconry, archery, axe throwing, blacksmithing, pony rides, kite flying, mini steam railway, bread making, vegetable sculpting and plant pot painting.

Iain Nicol, chief executive of the South of England Agricultural Society, said, “After a wet Saturday, we were thrilled to wake up to blue skies and sunshine on the last day of the show.

“The weekend saw more than 15,000 visitors coming to have a go at something new, enjoying a wide variety of countryside sports, while celebrating our farmers and the harvest.

“The nostalgic sight, sound and aroma of the South Eastern Vintage Agricultural Club display is always impressive and this year was even bigger and better.

“Providing the perfect backdrop to the show, dozens of unique vintage agricultural machinery, cars, Scammel and traction engines filled the huge space behind our main ring and Norfolk Pavilion.

“It always draws a crowd and we were thrilled to see so many people enjoying the important heritage of this bygone era of farming.”

Society President Richard Benyon MP attended and presented the awards in this year’s Student Assignment Competition, which is funded by the society and open to all students studying at land-based colleges in the region.

Designed to encourage individual research; to improve knowledge and develop study skills and forms, this year’s worthy winners came from Plumpton College, Sparsholt College in Hampshire and Merrist Wood College in Surrey, while students from Brinsbury Campus at Chichester College were awarded second and third prizes.

Autumn was also celebrated with more than 120 horticultural competition entries and “Harvest Moon” flower arrangements, organised by the BBC’s gardening expert Jean Griffin.

Children, who had planted pumpkin seeds at Spring Live earlier this year, brought back their wonderful pumpkins of all different sizes to put on display. Many youngsters stopped to have fun painting flower pots or sculpting vegetables, ably assisted by the Young Farmers Clubs.

First-class main arena attractions included Jonathan Marshall, who wowed the crowds with his breathtaking performances on his fairytale dancing Spanish horses and falcons, alongside wonderful displays from Warrenby Gundogs, Ridgeside Lurchers and Huxley’s Birds of Prey.

On Saturday visitors watched the Kent and Surrey Bloodhounds and on Sunday the Cavalcade of Hounds and Huntsmen were absolutely resplendent.