Show Preview: Showman's Show

Newbury's perennial extravaganza for the outdoor and specialist events industry is expecting more than 4,000 visitors, writes Lorraine Francisco.

A new theme arrives at the Showman's Show this year, introducing temporary structures that are bound to raise an eyebrow or two. In fact, for anyone seeking a Native American tepee, attending the Newbury showground in Berkshire on 19-20 October looks like being a must.

The ethnic village where this authentic teepee will stand is the brainchild of Steve Hayward, managing director of agency Amazing Parties. He came up with the idea at the Showman's Show two years ago when he organised an 'old meets new' event with traditional tents doubling as fully functional Internet cafes. This sparked an interest in traditional structures among the visitors and the concept has now come to fruition.

Companies exhibiting at the village will include World Tents and Past Tents, showcasing medieval jousting tents, plus The Tipi Company. In addition, Edinburgh based Light My Fire will provide Scandinavian style katas - larger tepees measuring 10m high - and Amazing Parties will supply yurts, which are hand-painted round tents used in Mongolia. These yurts will house the ethnic village's information centre.

Time to let rip

Hayward says the Showman's Show is the only exhibition that could feature the ethnic village as "if you tried to do this type of thing for example at Confex or at RSVP it would be cost prohibited to do it". He adds: "This is a show where you can let rip a little bit, where the space is available and the cost is modest."

Now in its 21st year, the Showman's Show has more than 300 exhibitors signed up so far, with more than 50 of these new to the event. The show's director, Stephen Lance, says: "Last year we had 4,822 pre-registered visitors with 3,781 attending the show. If last year's trend is repeated exactly, this year's attendance should be 4,225."

The show, organised by Lance Publications, is well established within the outdoor events industry calendar. Marcus Fiddes, from the motorcycle stunt show Fire Blaze Fiddes, will be attending for the first time and says: "The Showman's Show is the most recognised exhibition in the country for promoting an act.

"I served with the Royal Signals White Helmets Motorcycle Display Team and this show was the one that the team always attended." The Fire Blaze Fiddes stand measures 6sqm and will feature in the main arena.

Another new exhibitor is Portakabin Events, whose 450sqm stand will launch its Portakabin Luxe shower range. Jonathan Reid, general manager of Portakabin Events, says: "The show provides a fantastic forum for us to communicate and network with a key audience. It is the most comprehensive exhibition of products and services for the outdoor and specialist events industry and we are very much looking forward to being a part of it."

Flaming gyroscope

The show offers a wide range of products designed to satisfy any outdoor event organiser's needs, such as marquee hire, inflatables, funfairs, mobile toilets, falconry, traffic management and caterers.

It also provides exhibitors with the chance to see what's new in the industry, and to network. Amazing Parties' Hayward says: "Because it's a trade only show, the quality of visitors is very high and very targeted.

There is a lot of cross fertilisation from one hire company to another working together on larger projects. Between exhibitors there's lots of trading going on. You go to the show and see what's new and find out what will tickle your customers' fancy this year."

There is also entertainment in the outdoor main arena. This year two new acts will feature, namely Steve 'Showtime' Colley, the international motorcycle rider, and fire stunt show the Manchester Company of Extreme Largeness.

In the second of these, entertainer Joseph Peace will jump through a gyroscope - a NASA-designed contraption for weightlessness training, consisting of three concentric rings that enable a person to spin in every direction - after it has been set on fire. Visitors will also be able to ride the gyroscope when it's unlit, and will be entertained by Peace performing fire stunts incorporating pantomime and humour. He says: "I attended the show last year as a visitor, and from what I saw, this is the show for me."

To have motorcycle stunt men, an ethnic village, fire stunt shows, falconry and a wide range of outdoor event exhibitors in one place is a feat in itself, and the longevity of the show seems to be evidence of its success.

Show director Stephen Lance says: "We work very hard on the show and try our very best for people, and it seems to work. We're lucky but we're not complacent, let's put it like that."

VISITOR INFORMATION Venue: Newbury Showground, Berkshire Dates: 19-20 October 2005 How to get there: By road: via the M4 from South Wales or London, or the A34 from Oxford or Newbury. There is free on-site parking By rail: travel to Newbury or Didcot stations. A limited courtesy bus service runs between Newbury station and the showground Show organiser: Lance Publications Tel: 01730 266624 Website: www.showmans-directory.co.uk


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