The WI & The New Forest Show

The New Forest Show takes place in July each year and is a traditional county agricultural show that has been taking place since 1921. In addition to the livestock competitions and showjumping events (and a whole lot more), the WI runs its Hampshire county competition at the show.  For those of you who are fans of Kirsty Allsopp, this is the type of show she entered for her Channel 4 series Handmade Britain (check out Episode 5 for the New Forest Show).

Gold star photography by Katie Bennett

Gold star photography by Katie Bennett

Competitions are an integral part of the WI.  The Sotonettes submitted entries to the show for the first time in 2013; our experience of the competition was a lot of fun (although sometimes a bit stressful too!), a chance to show off our skills and perhaps even learn a new one.  We all received some useful feedback from some very experienced judges too. Some may see it as a competitive group of women who are only in it to win, an extensive set of rules and a time where the judges are ruthlessly honest. Both are true! Either way some of us love it and we can say it is becoming a little addictive. Whether you knit, make jam, or have a hidden talent for metalwork, there will be some way you can get involved each year.

Last year the Sotonettes had 10 entries including the committee cup and a group entry for the produce co-operative (in which we came 7th out of 21) and several entries were awarded either silver or gold stars.  If you’d like to see last year’s schedule, click here (opens in a new window).

On to 2014…

Each year the competition is themed – this year’s theme is Myths and Legends. There are 12 classes that can be entered: three of these are group competitions, 1 is a charity class, and 1 for novices. A draft schedule for 2014 has been made available here – this isn’t the final copy so please don’t start any projects until we know all the conditions and criteria for entry (more info will be available in March).

Your WI needs you!

2013 Sotonettes Produce Co-operative entry

2013 Sotonettes Produce Co-operative entry

The Sotonettes would like to enter the group co-operatives again this year. Each co-operative requires three items to be entered, however the judging is not only of the items but also the interpretation (visual impact, suitability of choices, suitability of accessories) and staging (use of space, display, use of colour, finish). As the WI ‘On with the Show’ guide says, “co-operative exhibits require detailed planning and co-ordination between members with many skills:

  • Planners who will dream up the concept
  • Designers and builders who create the scenery, and mechanics
  • Cooks, flower arrangers and craftswomen who can make the individual items.”

This year’s co-operative themes are:

  • Food fit for Finn McCool – three Irish food tasters
  • Aesop’s Fables – select three crafts (canvas work, cold porcelain, calligraphy, hand knitting, hand embroidery, lace and macramé)


If you are interested in entering any class (including the group classes) just let Katrina Kemp or Jen Thomson know as they are in charge of organising entries for the 2014 show.  You can contact us through the Sotonettes Facebook page or email us at  Katrina and Jen will be at the craft night meeting on Tuesday 11th February – anyone is welcome to come along and talk about ideas. It may seem early for a competition in July, but we have jobs, study and children taking up most of our time so we need all the time we can get, especially as most WIs will have started planning already!

More information

If you want to know more about other WI competitions, including those taking place for the WI 2015 centenary, please browse the following WI pages:

National Competitions

Centenary Celebrations 2015