Heavy Horses, Rural Displays & Other Attractions


The Heavy Horse Section at the Great Dorset Steam Fair is highly regarded as one of the most prestigious Heavy Horse displays in the country. Over 100 heavy horses take part in the many displays. Each day, in the working area, heavy horses will be working the land using various cultivation implements. On Thursday (25th August) in the working area there is a friendly ploughing match. On Sunday (28th August), the ring is reserved for the showing classes which begin at 9.30am with the presentation of trophies at around 3.30pm. All of the horses involved in both the working and daily displays will be groomed to their finest and dressed in their best harnesses to vie for the winning spot.
The sheep show is a fun and educational look at nine different breeds of sheep with the emphasis on wool. As each of the nine breeds of sheep is introduced to the audience, learn about each one’s attributes and how wool from the sheep’s back becomes a jumper for you to wear. Meet Nobby the Norfolk Horn, Susie the Southdown and their woolly friends. The shows are presented by New Zealanders; Richard Savory and Stuart Barnes, and are fun whatever your age. Don’t miss the famous ‘Sheep Show Shuffle’ and the fascinating live shearing demonstration. Each show lasts around 30 minutes and there will be three shows performed each day with the first show starting at 11.10am.

The Countryside Arena was introduced in 2007 and has proved to be a very popular addition to the show. The arena will consist of displays from Ben Potter Falconry (Birds of Prey Displays), Gamegoer Country Displays and The Dorset Axemen.

Ben Potter Falconry – ‘Birds of Prey Displays’ offer something very different from your typical flying falconry display. We concentrate on the natural behaviour of our magnificent birds, and show them doing what they do best – flying free – in the most natural displays of their kind’.

Gamegoer Country Displays – Gamegoer Country Displays provide a fascinating insight into the training of working dogs and the techniques used in handling hawks to work with them. Their display will culminate in an impressive and thrilling show involving hawks, dogs and even ferrets – simulating a day in the country and showing all the animals working in unison. The Gamegoer team will be present throughout the day to assist with advice and questions, and our attractive static display will provide an opportunity for visitors to meet the ‘artistes’ (the dogs, hawks and ferrets) at close quarters.

The Dorset Axemen – The Dorset Axemen formed in 2014 with 7 members with the aim of perpetuating the skills of the forester, woodman, timber cutter, before the advent of modern day harvesting machinery. Our display contains all aspects of speed and accuracy chopping and crosscut sawing with razor sharp axes & saws. Our experience ranges from 38 yrs to 2 yrs. All the wood used comes from managed woodlands and is felled according to a proper felling programme.

Our enormous Craft Marquees house a whole range of traditional rural country crafts including stained glass, dried flower arranging, the making of walking sticks, leather products (handbags and belts etc.), pottery and oil paintings. There is also an Outside Craft Area where you will find rope making demonstrations, wood carving, turning and wheel-righting, thatching, fencing, hurdle making, chalk walling and cider making.
Our Food Halls provide a fine selection of wholesome country ‘tucker’ including fresh cooked bread, cakes and pastries, home made speciality sausages and pies, strawberries, cream teas, local jams, cheeses, pickles and ploughman’s lunches – it’s irresistible!
A unique collection of working farming bygones from the days of yesterday when “Granfer” was in his hey-day. The display includes corn grinding and stone milling machines driven by shaft gearing plus water pumps, generating sets, horizontal and vertical tree sawing, a barn thresher, cleaning and winnowing. There is also a Ross and Hutchinson 30” thresher driven by a 1958 Ferguson with a barn baler from 1934. The complete cycle from sheaf of corn (cut on site) to organic flour for bread is demonstrated at the show. Most of the staff using the machines can be seen wearing traditional clothing adding authenticity to the display.
Presented by the South Wilts Agriculture Preservation Society (SWAPS). This small friendly society was formed in 1971 by a number of enthusiasts whose aims and objectives were, and still are, to preserve some of the country’s forestry, agricultural and rural heritage. This was at a time when obsolete forestry and farming equipment and associated tools were usually destined for the scrap dealer or left in the hedge to deteriorate. The items displayed and demonstrated include examples of some of the members’ restoration and preservation projects in an attempt to save a little of the country’s forestry and agricultural heritage. Likewise the working demonstrations also portray members’ interests in preserving some fascinating rural skills
A unique collection from dairy production bygones that include butter, cheese, cream and even the delivery of fresh milk through the ages. People who are interested in preserving the history and relics of the old dairy industries put this section together
A fascinating display of collections of old objects and artefacts, both from daily life of years gone by and from specialist trades and occupations. Many are items you will remember, however many you may not have heard of.
There are over 120 stationary engines at the show with many different makes and variations. These small engines were generally used on farms and in light industry to drive items such as water pumps, corn mills and saw benches
A visit to the Model Marquee is so interesting, everything from working engineering models and a blacksmith’s workshop to boats, trains and aeroplanes – a great diversity of exhibits, there is something for everyone.
In the Vintage and Veteran Cycle section there are an interesting range of machines and you will see how the bicycle has developed over time.