Potential visitor decline sparked name change to Malvern Spring Festival

Malvern Spring Flower Show changed its name and focus after a survey showed only 70 per cent of 2013 visitors planned to return, Three Counties Agricultural Society chief executive Ken Nottage has revealed.

The renamed Malvern Spring Festival attracted 87,000 visitors over four days (8-11 May), up from 86,000 in 2013 after poor weather forced the closure of the smaller marquee.

"We are trying to get that other 30 per cent to come back every year," said Nottage. "Clearly price is an issue. We haven't put the price up (Ā£38 on the gate) but nor have we reduced it - that can be dangerous because it sends out the wrong signals. It's better to provide more, which is what we have done this year. We have made a substantial investment."

More repeat custom "will not all happen at once", he added. "Word has to spread and then it will improve year on year. There are competing attractions, which tend to be free on the door but then you pay per event, whereas here you are covered for the day - and there is nothing like the quality here."

New features this year included cookery demonstrations from celebrity chefs and a vintage car display.

The new floral marquee hosted 80 nurseries, down from the previous 100. Interim show manager Jenny Jenner said there were "fewer nurseries - each should be allowed to shine".

Drointon Nurseries won the best floral marquee exhibit award for its auriculas, while Graduate Gardeners won best show garden for "Bringing Nature Home".

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