The men behind one of the highlights of the Derbyshire County Show and Food Fayre have been named as the event’s first ever joint presidents.
Kevin and Chris Balls are the brains behind the JC Balls’ Dancing Diggers which have entertained thousands of people from across the region at the annual event for more than a decade.
The brothers say they are honoured to have been given the title after attending the show for more than 50 years.
And they promise this year’s dance performance from their Ambergate-based mechanical monsters will be better than ever before.
Chris, 66, said: “Our Dad, Jim Balls, set up the business back in the Sixties but he has always been a farmer, so we grew up attending the show.
“We could never have imagined back then that we would one day be presidents, it is a genuine honour and a thrill to represent an event we have been so proud to be associated with for so many years.
“The show goes from strength to strength every year and genuinely has something for every member of the family. We’re particularly proud of the way it introduces the countryside to city dwellers and it’s always a thrill to see so many youngsters embracing the event.
“Although dad is 90 this year he still farms – he has some cattle and land – so we are still actively involved in the farming fraternity. We’ve grown up with it and started to attend the show when we were just boys, so it makes us immensely proud to be official ambassadors for it this year.”
The 138th Derbyshire County Show will be held on Sunday June 24th and is expected to attract thousands of people from across the region by showcasing the very best that the county has to offer.
For the second year running it will be staged in Locko Park, just off the A6096 in Spondon, which was used in 2017 to allow its previous home of Elvaston Showground to recover from flooding.
The show was a huge success, with almost 11,000 people attending the event, which had expanded to include a food fayre with some of the county’s most passionate and committed producers.
This year promises plenty of old favourites including livestock displays in the parade ring, heavy horses, vintage cars and tractors, show jumping, light horses, craft stalls and floral displays.
And 2018 also sees the return of a poultry show and a Kennel Club Dog Show, which will offer the chance to qualify for Crufts.
The emphasis has changed over the years from showcasing predominantly agricultural activities and equipment to organising a more all-round day-out for everyone.
Of course, one of the show’s annual highlights are the two performances from J C Balls’ Dancing Diggers, who astound audiences with their intricately choreographed routines to music such as Elevation by U2 and I Like the Way You Move by OutKast.
Collectively weighing more than 80 tonnes, the diggers wiggle past each other with split-second precision.
The vehicles perform ‘handstands’ in time to the music and create a ‘wedding arch’ for other machines to drive through.
The team consists of six drivers who have been together since 2004 and work hard to get the routine absolutely perfect.
Chris added: “People always assume the diggers must be modified to be able to perform with such elegance, but each of the machines taking part in the routine is out on the road during the week.
“We don’t actually have enough space to rehearse, because obviously you need a lot of room to manoeuvre six JCBs. The only way we can practise is to get the drivers to walk through the routine – so they certainly need some imagination.
“Because the machines are on building sites all week we have to spend quite some time cleaning them for the show. We also completely respray the buckets the night before so they look immaculate.
“It is a graphic demonstration of the machines’ remarkable manoeuvrability, precision and power and we are delighted to show this off.”
Tickets are now on sale at venues all over the county, including the Ashbourne, Chesterfield, Derby, Matlock and Swadlincote tourist information centres.
Car parking is free and organisers will be laying on a free bus service from Derby city centre. For more details visit www.derbyshirecountyshow.org.uk
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