Goostrey Gooseberry Society will be having its 121st show day next Saturday, at The Crown Inn, which marks this year’s long quest of who can grow the heaviest gooseberry. It’s all about the weight, with many growers having secret potions and growing methods to obtain the heaviest berry. There are 4 different colours of berries Red, Green, Yellow and White with prizes for the heaviest berry, heaviest twin, heaviest triplet (very rare !), and heaviest plates of 12 berries. Weighing is undertaken on an old balance scale and berries measured in penny weights and grains.
Competitive gooseberry growing started in the mid 1700’s when it was very fashionable, results were recorded in the Gooseberry Growers Register which was published each year. Once there were over 200 shows in the UK, now there are only 9 left, 8 of which are based in villages around Goostrey and form the Mid-Cheshire Gooseberry Association, with Goostrey being the largest show in the Association. The remaining show being in Egton Bridge in Yorkshire.
One of the legends of Gooseberry growing in Goostrey was Frank Carter, who used to work at the fruit farm in Goostrey (now Orchards Farm) and also was the head gardener in the arboretum at Jodrell Bank. Frank bred many of the competitive varieties still grown today and was born at Toad Hall, now home of Alan and Griselda Garner of the Blackden Trust.
With the number of Gooseberry growers declining we are in need of new members to help keep this village tradition going and currently have space for 10 new growers, so if you are a keen gardener (or even if you are not!) please do come to the show and speak to one of the members. New members are proposed at the Society’s meeting in September so they can be equipped with gooseberry trees ( not bushes!) prior to March meeting when the growing season commences. Although some members have been growing for nearly fifty years, you don’t have to be growing for long to have a chance of winning.
There is an active social life as well with the Society members getting together to build a float for Rose Day each year. The Society meets 4 times a year in September, January, March, and in July prior to Show Day.
This year Jason at the Crown Inn has kindly organised a Barbeque and Gooseberry cocktails for the adults for show day, and balloon modeller and facepaints for the children and music for both the Friday and Saturday night.
A film for TV is also being made of Gooseberry growing and the Show on Saturday, so a filmmaker will be present on Saturday with their cameras. We would be grateful for your support and look forward to seeing you all on Show day.
Goostrey Gooseberry Show is on Saturday 28th July from 1pm at The Crown…….with prizes awarded around 6pm.