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My Parsnips Are Bigger Than Your Parsnips: The Negative Aspects of Competing at Flower and Produce Shows

Custard, Culverts and Cake

ISBN: 978-1-78743-286-4, eISBN: 978-1-78743-285-7

Publication date: 5 October 2017


The Ambridge Flower and Produce Show is the source of frequent scandals. For example, the misunderstanding that resulted in Chutneygate in 2016 caused feelings to run high. However, there is also evidence of deliberate cheating. Toye (2009) records three confirmed instances between 1975 and 2008, two planned and one opportunist, along with a number of unproved allegations. According to Michaels and Miethe (1989, p. 883), ‘cheating is a general class of deviance that occurs in a variety of contexts’, whilst DeAndrea, Carpenter, Shulman, and Levine (2009) believe that it is now commonplace throughout society. Houser, Vetter, and Winter (2012, p. 1654) argue that ‘the perception of being treated unfairly by another person significantly increases an individual’s propensity to cheat’. Taken at face value, Flower and Produce Shows are charming, community-based events showcasing personal endeavour for little in the way of reward. However, both the Ambridge experience and the literature suggest that the competitive nature of the event aligned with the potential for perceived unfair treatment by the judges may mean that the likelihood of cheating is high. Given this, how representative is the Ambridge Flower and Produce Show of a real-life Flower and Produce Show? This chapter examines the emotions and behaviours that these shows engender by reviewing scholarly thinking on competition, competitive behaviour and cheating, and then comparing critical incidents at the fictional Ambridge show with evidence derived from interviews with the committee and contestants of the annual Flower and Produce Show in a small market town in Wiltshire.




We would like to thank our six interviewees for their time and sharing their experiences — both good and bad — of the Flower and Produce Show. We wish you many more victories.


Daniels, R. and Warren, A.M. (2017), "My Parsnips Are Bigger Than Your Parsnips: The Negative Aspects of Competing at Flower and Produce Shows", Courage, C. and Headlam, N. (Ed.) Custard, Culverts and Cake, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 3-24.



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