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Britain’s agricultural show organisers declare national conference a success

Show organisers and suppliers, who attended the annual Autumn Conference of the ASAO in Devon this month, are now back on home territory and in the throes of planning the 2017 season, equipped with a wealth of top tips and new ideas.

130 delegates, representing both the multi-day shows like Great Yorkshire, Royal Welsh, Royal Highland, Royal Ulster & Royal Bath & West, and one-day events like the Burwarton, Cartmel and Driffield Shows, came together at ‘Jam on Top’ – the Association of Show & Agricultural Organisation’s 60th Conference (6 – 8 November) at the Imperial Hotel, Torquay.

Staged for the first time by a consortium of one-day shows (Honiton, Totnes, Yealmpton and Mid Devon this year), and attended by the ASAO’s Patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO, it was a weekend of talks, syndicate sessions and practical activities.

There was even time to take in the sights of the beautiful English Riviera.

Students from South Devon College came along on the second day to interview and photograph delegates, and assisted by BBC Devon broadcaster, Janine Jansen, put together a special edition of Conference News https://www.asao.co.uk/south-devon-college-students-produce-conference-times/ which was delivered to delegate rooms the very next day!

Keynote speakers this year include international sports presenter Nick Brooks-Ward, who was Lead Project Manager for HM The Queen’s 90th Birthday celebrations and Meurig Raymond, President of the NFU.

Her Royal Highness attended on the second day and joined the syndicate discussions on a variety of topics to include e-ticketing, advertising and communications, before meeting show organisers and suppliers.

After the event, delegates took to Twitter to acknowledge the ASAO’s support for the industry, commending it on an “excellent Conference”, with “great presentations”, “inspirational talks” and “opportunities to discuss new opinions.”

Judy Willis, Event Organiser for the Northumberland County Show said: “This was my third ASAO Conference and, as always, I brought home loads of great new ideas and contacts of enthusiastic like-minded people all wanting the best for agricultural shows.

As a result of information gathered from the Conferences and Learning Days our Show has completely overhauled its sponsorship strategy and as a direct result we been successful in attracting five principal partners. ASAO membership gives us access to colleagues the length and breadth of the country who are always on hand to share their ideas, top tips and processes on all aspects of show management.”

The Conference is very popular with the industry’s chain of suppliers, and this year’s sponsors and exhibitors – including Geerings Print, Danco PLC, Devon Life, Cook Street & Plyvine Catering – were equally as enthusiastic about the event, which enables them to promote their products and services to attending show organisers.

Frances Tanner of the Jam on Top Conference team said she was thrilled to have received such early positive feedback from delegates, traders and sponsors.

“Working as a consortium meant that from the outset, we had an extensive depth of experience, knowledge and network contacts, gained over many years, from which to draw. Our ambition was to deliver a conference which gave something to everyone who attended and given the feedback received to date, we appear to have done just that. It was a positive partnership experience and one which we will all remember for a long time to come.”

Her sentiments were echoed by ASAO Chairman Christine Knipe: “The Jam on Top team worked exceptionally hard to deliver a great anniversary event, and I am delighted to hear that this year’s delegates gleaned so much from the experience.

The ASAO exists to represent and support colleagues throughout the UK, by facilitating information sharing, and the kind of network opportunities derived from a national meeting of minds.

We give thanks to our Patron, HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO for accepting our invitation to attend. Through her wide agricultural connections Her Royal Highness is fully aware of our industry’s proud heritage and the many ongoing challenges facing our membership and her time, support and insight into our work is greatly valued. “

Although Jam on Top was the 60th anniversary of the Conference, the ASAO came into being as far back as 1923.

The Autumn Conference 2017 is hosted by The Driffield Show and takes place in York on Friday 3 – Sunday 5 November.

Picture Caption: HRH The Countess of Wessex joins Judy Willis, Event Organiser, Northumberland County Show, in one of the popular syndicate panel sessions.

ASAO conference HRH  Pictures: Richard Austin Tel: 07831 566005

ASAO conference HRH
Pictures: Richard Austin
Tel: 07831 566005