Sparsholt College students took centre stage as the bustling campus basked in some beautiful May sunshine this afternoon during the College’s showcase event, Countryside Day. Leading many of the demonstrations and have-a-go activities, the students willingly displayed skills they have acquired on their various courses.
Tim Jackson, Sparsholt College Principal said: “What a superb day we had where Sparsholt shone and our expert students and staff brought their skills to life for the many thousands of visitors. We had families with toddlers through to grandparents enjoying everything to do with countryside careers, living and leisure. It’s great to open up the entire campus for people to experience our first class facilities and see why we are renowned as one of the leading land-based colleges in the UK.”
Sparsholt’s herd of Holstein cows greeted everyone on arrival as guests weaved their way from the College farm, via sheep shearing, through to the Equine Centre where they enjoyed showjumping and horsemanship displays. Under the expert eye of the College Equine students, budding equestrians experienced pony rides as they lapped one of the Centre’s three outdoor arenas.
There were a number of ‘firsts’ for this year with Agriculture students competing in the cattle show, confidently leading their calves and cattle around the arena all vying for rosettes and top honours from the official judges. Over in the Horticulture department the RHS Chelsea team gave visitors a sneaky peak of their design for this year’s flower show, which opens on 22 May 2017 and the new Mayor of Test Valley, Councillor Carl Borg-Neal chose Countryside Day for his first official day of duties.
A particularly thrilling attraction is always the Arboriculture students’ pole-climbing competition. Racing against each other and the clock as they climb to the top of the impressive 45-foot poles winning a birds-eye view of the main arena attractions from horse-logging to the craft fair and sheepdog displays.
With have-a-go activities the hallmark of Countryside Day, there was much to keep everyone busy from tree and wall climbing, clay pigeon shooting, getting under the bonnet of a car or competing to get to the top of the leader board in the Sports department’s obstacle course. And for those who prefer to sit back and watch there were expert demonstrations and displays from fly-fishing, chainsaw carving, animal encounters and the instant garden challenge.
All these activities made for hungry, thirsty work and Hampshire’s top chefs whetted appetites in the Hampshire Fare demo kitchen. With delicious aromas filling the air guests enjoyed tasty treats from local producers across the county.
Tim Jackson concludes: “I think this has been one of our best ever Countryside Days. We were blessed with some beautiful weather and it’s great to see so many people choosing to spend the day with us and experience the skills, which our students learn every day, in action”