Challenge of Country Fair for Jubilee golden boy

Dominic Reid is organising Chatsworth Country Fair in the grounds of Chatsworth HouseDominic Reid is organising Chatsworth Country Fair in the grounds of Chatsworth House
Dominic Reid is organising Chatsworth Country Fair in the grounds of Chatsworth House
HIS career has seen him running major events ranging from the university boat race to the London Marathon and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

And now Dominic Reid, who received the OBE a decade ago for his services to the Golden Jubilee and the City of London, has taken over the running of Chatsworth’s famous Country Fair for the first time.

The event, now in its 32nd year, will be held at the country estate near Bakewell - seat of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire - from today.

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It’s an affair on a grand scale, with attractions ranging from an air display by the Red Arrows to cookery lessons from celebrity television baker and judge Mary Berry.

But it is all in a day’s work for Mr Reid, who has been pageantmaster of the Lord Mayor’s Show in London - an annual event with a history stretching back some 800 years - since 1993.

He said: “When the previous organiser asked me if I’d like to take over the running of the Country Fair, I thought it sounded like a great idea.

“I’ve been organising major events for more than 20 years, so it seems like a reasonable fit.”

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Mr Reid is based in Norfolk, but his career running some of the country’s most major events of the past two decades has seen him travel far from home.

He said: “I’ve organised the Lord Mayor’s Show in London, the Oxford and Cambridge boat race, and I was involved quite heavily in the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

“I was awarded the OBE in 2002 for services to the jubilee and also the Lord Mayor’s Show, which I’d done for 10 years at that point - but this is the first time I’ve done a country fair.”

He added: “It’s a different type of job.

“For a start, there’s a lot of building which has be done.

“That’s different because things I’ve done in the past tended to be for free public consumption, tended to be televised live and tended to be done in an existing environment.

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“Here it’s a case of taking a piece of parkland and turning it into a special place.”

Over the past few weeks, the 51-year old has thrown himself into the colossal task of getting Chatsworth ready for the Country Fair, which opens its gates today.

The event continues tomorrow and Sunday, with gates opening at 9am and closing at about 6.30pm each day.

Preparations, he said, have been going “very well.

Mr Reid said: “We’ve been blessed with fantastic weather and the ground is in very good condition.

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“The site is looking great and the weather for the weekend is looking marvellous.”

He added: “We’ve got an absolutely fantastic lineup planned.

“There’s going to be the Red Arrows flying over on Sunday, which is spectacular, and we’ve got a lot of good activity in the Grand Ring as well as really fantastic trade stands.

“The fine food village is bigger and more densely packed than it was.

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“We’ve got Mary Berry demonstrating today, which is exciting.

“There’s lots of things people can do, join in and participate with as well as watching and seeing.”

Attractions in the Grand Ring will include a “spectacular” display from the Musical Drive of the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery.

A Chatsworth spokesman said: “At 54ft long, with six horses per team and 1.5 tonnes of World War One artillery, this is one of the most spectacular displays of horsemanship in the world.”

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Other displays will come from acts including the “JCB Dancing Diggers” team, last seen at Chatsworth Country Fair in 2004, and the 35-piece Heavy Cavalry and Cambrai band.

In the showground, displays to look out for will include a dog agility assault course, hot air balloon lifts in the early morning and again at dusk, Highland Dancing demonstrations, sheepdog trials, a lurcher show, threshing demonstrations and a dog and gun competition.

The trade stands and food village, meanwhile, will include more than 300 stalls selling a huge range of produce.

Events that visitors can join in with will include clay pigeon shooting, fly fishing on the river Derwent, archery sessions and a family dog show.

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The Red Arrows will fly over the event, which will be Britain’s biggest Country Fair, on Sunday afternoon.

Entry to the event costs £20 on the gates for adults, or free for children aged under 14. Dogs are permitted to accompany their owners as long as they remain on leads.

For all the activities the weekend has in store, however, Mr Reid said that the grand house of Chatsworth itself remains one of the fair’s main attractions.

“It’s a fantastic place and one which a huge number of people hold in deep affection”, he said.

“It really is a very special place indeed.”