Behind the scenes blog – Scott Dobson

Have you ever wondered who works out where all the trade stands and marquees go at the show? Well, it’s our planning officer Scott Dobson and he’s been dealing with this logistical nightmare for more than 15 years!

It means Scott pretty much lives at the showground for the six weeks leading up to the show – and is kept pretty busy on the big day as well.

From the moment the trade stand entries close, Scott sets about working on a scale map before embarking on marking out the showground itself.

“The show is both enjoyable and stressful,” he said. “The planning really starts for next year as soon as the current show ends – feedback starts filtering in and new ideas are put forward.

“As soon as I have a final figure on trade stands I begin laying out a scale map for the stands and big marquees – this can take three or four days of planning and it’s a real juggling act. I want to ensure every square metre of space is filled in the best way, all the stands fit in their allocated space and, as far as possible, similar stands are kept apart.

“There can be 130-150 stands plus the big marquees all needing to be allocated a spot for the day. Many of our long-standing traders have their favourite pitch and want to retain that while others express a preference for where they want to be sited, so it can be difficult. If they want a move it can be a bit like waiting for dead man’s shoes!

“I try and keep retail pretty much together but if we have specialist traders I try to dot them around the ground. Some can get upset if they are right next to each other. It makes sense to keep the agricultural people together but, for example, we keep the car boys apart. It seems to work out pretty well in the end.

“Having come up with my scale map, it’s then down to the showground to peg it all out, before going around marking it all out with white liner. It’s important to make sure everything fits in the right place – if I’m three millimetres out on my scale plan it can throw the whole thing out when we get on the showground.

“I normally have a team of one or two to help me ahead of the show but this year there should be three or four – with three on the day itself.

“On show day I make sure everyone is in their right spot, they’re happy and have no problems, just making sure everything generally is ok. If there is bad weather I need to see they can all get off the showground as well. I’m also on constant call on show day as one of two or three people who can react quickly if something happens and needs sorting out.

“I first started helping out at the show as a steward, helping John Byrd laying out crowd barriers, then went on the committee and became a trustee – I was a trustee for 12 years or so. Brian Watson-Jones was the planning officer before me and I carried it on. I was show president nine years ago.

“The show is very different from my ‘normal job’ as a commercial agent for winter sports brands, looking after the UK interests of Dynastar Skis, Lange Ski Boots, Look Bindings, Kerma Poles, Lenz Products, Toko Products and Zipfit Liners. This job tends to be a bit quieter at this time of year, fortunately, which allows me to concentrate all my efforts on the show.”