ASAO Conference

15 Nov 2015 By Charles Manners

I attended the 2015 annual ASAO conference in Norwich which is the county show organisation that represents small one day county shows to the larger events such as the Norfolk Show, Lincolnshire and Devon Show, we are members. This year there was limited focus on catering, however we sponsored as a Catering  Consultancy a tea break and remain committed to the sector.

There were a number of interesting presentations and talks. The good news is that in general the summer of 2015 was kind to nearly all outdoor events, there were exceptions as good weather is so important for encouraging people to visit.

The focus of the conference was on securing a sustainable future for county shows, which are being challenged by a crowded calendar.

Guy smith Vice President NTU gave a talk on the main issues NTU are working on. Guy farms  with the lowest rainfall in the UK St Osyths Priory with 20 inches of rain a year, and was not convinced by climate change, but accepts the weather it is becoming more volatile.  Food markets globally are correspondingly more volatile, with wheat now £120 per ton, similar to 2008 to 2010. There is no question that Britain should be growing and consuming more local produce. Guy said farming was on the brink technical revolution with tractors now able to drive themselves, and using chemicals  more efficiently, and environmentally more sustainable E.g. cabbages; give only those that need fungicide.

The NFU is apolitical, however he stated it would be better if government did not gold plate every regulation from  Brussels!

We then had a talk from Gethin Jenkins who was Head of Event Delivery England rugby 2015 and about to leave his job! He rightly in my view stated that the UK is a leading global player in organising events and the world cup has cemented this reputation.

He said they had to create a vision, differentiators to get people to want to be part of something, in order to sell so many tickets and attract a wider audience. They successfully created more than a tournament; it was an event too big to miss, helped by flexible ticketing prices with groups &special discounts. There are definitely lessons for the county shows!

Amusingly he said there are 7 stages for staging an event:

  • Exhilaration when its won
  • Reality then sets in
  • Disillusionment as to how to deliver
  • Search for the guilty who bid
  • Persecution of the innocent
  • Speculation for a successful event

Glorification of the uninvolved when successful


Ian Doughty


Tracey Fairclough


Charles Manners


Chris Brown







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