FFA EXPO VI - KENT COUNTY SHOW GROUND, MAIDSTONE
16th-18th JULY 2010
I believe the story of how Expo VI came to take place at the Kent County Show on 16-18th July was a process of elimination. Peter Love arranged a meeting between the FFA chaiman Peter Godwin the then Kent Agricultural Society’s show secretary David Gough and Bernard Pike the chairman of the Heritage Section of the show. A basic principle of the Expo is that one year it takes place in the north the next year in the south giving everyone a chance to participate in the event hence it travelling to Dublin and Fingal, Republic of Ireland in 2008.A further meeting took place between the KAS, the FFA secretary, chairman and of course Rodney Gibson the South East FFA representative who lives just around the corner from the show site and was to lead the event here, in fact it was really "Rodney’s Show".
In principle the KAS said yes and agreed to provide electricity and a marquee an essential thing for the Expo.
It also fitted in the programme of these events nicely as it was taking place in the south the first time since the 2006 Dorset Steam Fair. Kent is a strong area for these tractors that had mostly been made in the neighbouring county of Essex.
We all established where the marquee was to go and its size before we spent much of Tuesday and Wednesday marking it all out with the marking machine and helping
Rodney and his small team where he wanted things.
We also moved Rodney’s ‘fleet’ of tractors to the site, which was great fun.
As the marquee was finished off on the Thursday everyone arrived! Rob and Rosie Rushen-Smith, Peter Godwin and David Caley were working hard putting things up and with teas supplied by Wendy Gibson. We moved the tractors inside the marquee with the Haynes of Maidstone Fordson F under much discussion of what year it actually is. The thinking is that it has a very early front end 1917/18, but a later back end as is the way with such things. Brian Thompson who is now 80 let Rodney bring over from Brattle Farm his just wonderful 1922 F orchard possibly the oldest conversion in the land here. Andrew Hooker had his Fordson Major KFD 68in in the tent, which the ‘experts’ loved talking over. On the other side stood Peter Clarke’s concours condition 1953 Jubilee and what has been a brilliant but controversial restoration of a 1932 Fordson transitional N (Cork-Dagenham), which runs as well as it looks.
We helped Nick Bryan put up the FFA display boards in the tent, which have not been seen for some years. Peter Godwin had kindly given these a coat of paint not long before the show and a new set of pictures were erected on them.
Thanks to Rodney Gibson, Haynes of Maidstone who have been going for 200 years came up with some lovely black and white pictures. We also had a good selection of pictures from events the FFA had attended during the year.
By the end of the day all the tractors were in place Rodney Broadly with his fabulous 1000 series collection started the line off on the left of the marquee. However he is still looking for that exlusive 1000 series machine if you know of one that’s available do get in touch, tel: 01323 833125.
Much of the 130 entry had come from Kent, but James Hardstaff and the ‘gang’ supported this event to the hilt all the way from Nottinghamshire as did George Yarwood from Cheshire with his 1981 Roadless 980.
Making its debut here was the Doe grader, that had come from the Cheffins sale last October and has been through a lot. It had been stripped down three times, but still had a bit of a clutch problem by the sounds of it. Nevertheless it was here thanks to owner Bernard Saunders. It’s made out of a Allis Chalmers DT200 grader with a Major back end of various years.
Now all painted it was to be paraded by David Caley with bowler hat and all.
Ed Carr who was attending his first Expo with his mighty 1967/8 Doe 150. It was good to see the Ovenden owned and repaired Doe New Performance Super Major here another making its Expo debut. In fact only about 10 of these tractors had ever been to a FFA Expo before, which can only be good.
We lined Roger Desborough up on his plot with the mighty ex Cheffins Northrop 5004 and we negotiated Des Boughton’s Hardy crane in position. It’s an amazing machine alongside an ex Rodney Gibson industrial E27N that his new son in-law Ernie from Overland Solutions (who is brilliant with panel work) is to restore. The other side stood Des’ late 1969 ex ECC Muir Hill dumper, which ran a treat and the bumper had been given the works just hours before the show.
Talking of industrials the 1961 Fordson Power Major fork lift belonging to electrical wizard Jim from Meopham, Kent certainly looked the part and worked hard unloading various tractors.
On Friday everyone was up and on duty bright and early we had a steady number of people come through to our area, there were to be approximately 105,000 people attend the three day show.Lucy Hegerty and her Kent Show staff could not have done more for us quite frankly and that was the case of Bernard Pike and his Heritage section team.
We paraded in the main ring on the Friday morning, which Rodney assembled a magnificent team of helpers that continued on every day, with Health and Safety as it is we did well to muster the 44 marshals we had at one time.
There were a number of people here from abroad such as Italy, Belgium, France, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and some from Wales seeing what goes on at an Expo event as well. Evan Stan from the Southland ,New Zealand where the dual E27N lives visited the event as well.
Our job was really over by Sunday lunchtime after the prize giving presented by the chairman Peter Godwin and co-ordinated by the secretary Rob Rushen Smith, with Overall show winner Clive Monro's 1936 Weeks & Sons Ltd Fordson N hop garden conversion, which was judged by the FFA exhibitors.
"Well done Clive"
Phil Callander who had spent many hours bringing his fleet of Ford and Fordsons to the show summed it all up by saying "he had a wonderful time something that might never happen again in his lifetime.The event was well organised and put together by a professional team that could show others how it all could be done."
Rodney Gibson & All the FFA would like to thank - members who made the effort to bring their tractors to Expo VI - marshalls - catering ladies - Peter Love for his commentary in the tractor arena and our own FFA tractor show around the marquee, "Everyone" who helped with the organising and running of the Expo VI.
Especialy to Chris Aust & "Oliver & Austin West" who took a week off work and helped with the marking out of the tractor layout, general help throughout the time of the show, getting Rodney's & Others tractors
to and from the show and clearing the site afterwards.
It wouldn't have been such a fantastic show with out you.
"Thank you All"