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03rd June, 2024

The centrepiece, as always, will be the prestigious British Cider Championships.  Entries have topped 450, confirming its status as the biggest cider competition in Britain, if not in Europe.  The 18 classes in the championships are broadly similarly subscribed as last year, with the quality expected to be higher than ever after another good year for cider growing and making in 2023.

Cider orchards will be celebrated in the exhibition, as well as the end product, in a year which has seen many hundreds of acres of cider orchards grubbed up, mainly in Herefordshire, as a result of falling demand for cider fruit from some of the major manufacturers.  But the traditional and craft sectors, which are championed at Orchards and Cider, are in good heart, with new businesses being set up year on year – as witnessed by another strong entry of 35 in the ‘cider newcomer’ class.

This year, Orchards and Cider will be under new leadership, with Ross Mangles of Northdown Orchard at Haselbury Plucknett near Crewkerne taking over from Master Cider-Maker Bob Chaplin as Chief Steward, Bob having retired at the end of last year’s show after many years in the role.

With his father David, Ross manages 40 acres of cider orchards, planted by his Grandfather in the 1970’s for the Taunton Cider Company, and has recently started planting new orchards to ensure supply for years to come. The Northdown apples provide the raw material for the cider which Ross produces for his Cider Barn with apples also being supplied to craft cider makers the length and breadth of the country.

“It is a great honour to have been asked to take over from a living legend in the cider industry like Bob Chaplin”, says Ross.

“We are not planning any dramatic changes, but are looking to build on the foundations laid by Bob and, before him, the late Rupert Best, over the last 24 years.  I like to think of Orchards and Cider as the standard bearer not just for traditional cider, but for the many new craft cider businesses which are grafting new techniques onto age-old principles, with stunning results.”

 

Orchards and Cider will again be featuring the ever-popular People’s Choice, in which show-goers get the chance to sample and judge some of the best ciders on show, while the Cider Bar, run in conjunction with the South West of England Cidermakers’ Association (SWECA), will be offering a wide range of ciders, perries and apple juice.

The aim of the exhibition is educational as well as celebratory, with leading industry figures offering tutored cider-tasting sessions focused on different aspects of the cider world throughout the show, while Bob Chaplin will again be leading his ‘master-class’ for cider-makers new and old.

Judging of the British Cider Championships starts early on the first day of the show, and continues until late morning on the Friday, with the winners being announced and prizes presented in the marquee at 3pm on the Friday afternoon.

Other highlights include the presentation of the Royal Bath and West Society’s special prize for lifetime achievement in the cider industry, at noon on the Thursday, with the Worshipful Company of Coopers Trophy for Craftsmanship in the Cider Industry following on the Friday.

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