The Chale Sports and Garden Show started in 1920. The early show exhibit entries were: vegetable, fruit, flowers and ladies’ classes and limited to those who resided within the village. There were two divisions for entry, cottagers and gardeners (professional or amateur) or smallholders. There was also a dozen or so classes open to all the island. Competition would have been fierce between professional gardeners as they could have won, in prize money, the equivalent of a weeks wages. Also, their employers would have expected them to win a share of the available cups. The shows were financed by donations. In 1927 there were over 200 subscriptions amounting to 39 pounds 3 shillings and 10 pence.
Classes were gradually added including children’s and egg classes by the 1950’s and photographic and art classes in more recent years.
Up to the 1950’s the show was held on a Thursday afternoon, as this was early closing day in Chale. The first 2 day show (Saturday and Sunday) was held in 1976 to celebrate the silver jubilee and in 1978 became the normal arrangement. This same year saw a record number of exhibit entries of 925. This record stood until 2006 but has continued to climb to last years amazing total of over 1500.
The show has changed venue several times until in 1998 we moved to the newly established recreation ground. This gave us the space to book larger and more spectacular arena attractions and the show grew in popularity to become an Island wide show.
In 2004 we decided that we should provide the funds to purchase the recreation ground for the village. Since then the Parish Council, who holds the lease to the field, have been in discussions with the County Council to purchase the field. Their efforts were finally achieved as ownership of the field was transferred to the parish and is now run for the benefit of the Parish by a specially set up Chale Recreation Ground Limited with 4 directors, two each from the parish council and the horticultural society. This has ensured the show will have a fixed home for the foreseeable future.
2006 saw the implementation of the Licensing Act which brought with it tough new health and safety standards to all shows. Chale Show work hard to conform to all these standards however, associated costs rise annually, reducing our ability to make charitable donations. Due to the demands of new legislation, the operation and running of the show is now done by Chale Show Limited, with Chale Horticultural Society becoming a registered charity which makes the donations to good local and Island causes.
2016 marked our 90th year in Horticulture, celebrated with specially themed classes, making the show even more memorable for those exhibiting and visiting!
Chale Show Ltd Director