History of The East Kent Ploughing Match Women’s Section
Creating a Women’s Section of the EKPMA was first suggested in 1950 by Ella Robertson, wife of John Robertson of Appleton Manor. Initially thought by the existing (Men’s) Committee to be financially un-viable, she and a dedicated group of ladies – mainly middle-aged farmer’s wives – formed their own Committee and determined to bring the idea to reality. The first Women’s Section appeared the very next year at the 1951 Ploughing Match, held on 18 October at Adisham Court. The Show was funded by the proceeds from a raffle, and indeed the majority of the funding today is still generated by the annual raffle which now, as then, boasts over 100 prizes and the Raffle Marquee is a sight to behold! Rising costs in more recent years have required the income from the raffle to be supplemented by the proceeds from an Autumn Social, held annually in October.
The stalwarts of that first Committee drew up the rules of competition and the format, both of which remain largely unchanged today.
Rules for the 1952 Match
The Competitions in the Women’s Section of the East Kent Ploughing Match Association are open to the Wives and Families of Members, their Employees, Farmers and Farm Workers resident in the area.
All Entries must be made on the printed Entry Form and Entrance Fee paid at time of entry, this Form to be in the hands of the Secretary not later than the last Friday in August.
All Exhibits to be ready for Judging by 10.00 a.m., and not to be removed before 3.30 p.m.
No Exhibitor allowed more than one Entry in any one Section.
The Committee have the powers to add or withdraw Prizes in each Class according to the number of Competitors and the merit displayed. The Judges will have power to withhold Prizes where they consider the Exhibits of insufficient merit, or insufficient Entries.
No Exhibitor or Member of the Public will be allowed into the tent during Judging.
The Committee does not hold itself responsible for the loss of, or damage to, any Container or Exhibit.
No Prize Money will be paid on the day of the Show. Prizes will be sent to successful Competitors.
The current rules vary only slightly from those originally drawn up in 1951, but have added ‘Members of a Young Farmers Club’ to the list of those who are eligible to enter the competitions.
Aims of the Women’s Section
The EKPMA Women’s Section was instigated to demonstrate traditional rural pursuits and values. The show was designed to showcase the everyday skills of farming communities with a long history of good home-produced food, prepared and made using local (often home grown) ingredients; a variety of handicraft techniques and styles; floral arrangements and hand-cut, seasonal flowers gathered from the competitors own garden. These aims remain as true to the ethos of the Women’s Section today as they did 60 years ago.
The Women’s Section Schedule
In the early years there were classes for home-made butter, tomatoes and home-made wine as well as the traditional and on-going classes for poultry and eggs, preserves and bottled fruits, flowers, sweets, cakes, handicrafts along with a children’s cookery and craft section. Over the years other classes have been introduced with home-made beer and cheese both making an appearance for a while and the very popular Collective Exhibit featuring a mixture of craft, cookery and floral items, was one of the early additions to the schedule which still features today. In 1979 a class for photographs was included for the first time and this was extended to include children’s entries in 1991.
Involving the local community
It has always been the intention of the EK Ploughing Match to not only be a day of participation and enjoyment for the farming community, but also to include (and inform) the wider community.
In 1966 when the Ploughing Match was held at Ileden Farm, Kingston it was suggested that the Committee should ask the local school to put on a small exhibition at one end of the marquee. And so it came about that Barham School were the first to stage a colourful and informative display as part of the Women’s Section show. This tradition still continues today and over the years many of the local schools throughout East Kent have delighted visitors to the Ploughing Match with their highly original displays.
2005 saw another new initiative when, at the Quex Park Ploughing Match, the Women’s Section staged a Craft Marquee for the first time selling, displaying and in some instances demonstrating local rural crafts. This was so successful that it has since become a regular fixture and a very important part of the Show.
This year’s Ploughing Match will feature demonstrations of spinning, basket weaving, lace making, quilting, pole lathe turning, woodturning and trug making. Stalls will include hand made chocolates, hand-painted ceramics, soft furnishings, jewellery, hand made soap, wooden garden accessories, artwork and photography
Helpful advice for entering EKPMA Women’s Section classes:
Below is a list of guidelines that have been compiled using the experience of many years of competition. Whilst every care has been taking in compiling this advice, it is by no means exhaustive, and the opinions of different judges do vary enormously.
Class 1 & 2: Poultry & Eggs
Eggs should be: a matching set (size and colour), clean and fresh, free of cracks or damage
Poultry should be: carefully plucked and de-quilled, firmly trussed with present giblets
Class 3: Collective Exhibit
Please note the wording in the schedule states “No visible accessories allowed except staging”. Therefore the exhibit should only contain the four items being entered for judging plus the background cloth/drape and any staging used to add different dimensions to the display.
Class 4: Sweets
Care needs to be taken over the weight of the sweets: scales will be available for the judge to check that the entry complies with the specification.
Class 5: Photographs
Please ensure you refer to Women’s Section Schedule for sizes and other information
Class 6: Flowers
Take care not to exceed stated dimensions in the Miniature/Petite classes
Class 7: Handicrafts
Some judges may not mark an entry in the Any Other Handicraft section that is in the same medium as that of other classes e.g. handknitting, quilting
Class 8: Cookery
In Section A – the cake made to a given recipe, be sure to use only the specified amount of each ingredient (If using a fan oven reduce cooking temperature by 20degrees)
Scones – cheese/savoury to be cut with a straight edged cutter and sweet should be cut using a fluted cutter
Cakes - Victoria sandwiches should have a jam filling and caster sugar on top
Quiches – should not be presented in dishes
Class 9: Preserves & Bottled Fruit - Wax discs should only be used with cellophane jam pot covers, not with metal lids, and when using wax discs, as with metal lids, jars must be filled to the top. Labels should show day, month and year.