The Chale Sports and Garden Show started in 1920, financed by donations. The early show exhibit entries were limited to those who lived within the village of Chale, and included vegetable, fruit, flowers and ladies’ classes. There were two divisions for entry, cottagers and gardeners (professional or amateur) or smallholders. Professional gardeners could have won the equivalent of a weeks wages, with the expectation from their employers to win available cups in the classes, so competition was fierce. There was also a dozen or so classes open to all the island.
The show soon began to grow, and by
1927 there were over 200 subscriptions for the show, amounting to 39 pounds, 3 shillings and 10 pence – £2,500 in todays money! It wasn’t only subscriptions to the show that grew, as more and more classes were added – something the show still strives to do. By the 1950’s, children’s classes had been added making the show the family friendly event that it is today.
Until the 1950’s, the show was always held on a Thursday Afternoon – this was early closing day in Chale and meant that the villagers were all able to attend. 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 and held the record until 2006. Since then the number of exhibit entries has continued to climb, with 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. Efforts to purchase were finally rewarded as ownership of the field was transferred to the parish and is now run for the benefit of the Parish. This has ensured the show will have a fixed home for the foreseeable future.
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.
In 2016 we celebrated our 90th Show,
and have even managed to weather two years of cancellations brought about by the Covid19 pandemic in 2020/21. Despite depleted funds, the show bounced back in 2022 with amazing attendance and our largest ever fund raising total.
We are now enjoying our 95th year in Horticulture, and whilst the show continues to grow and expand, it is still very much a country show put on by a local community and has managed to stay true to its roots.
Bob Pritchard & James Fothergill