The first day of this year’s Royal Show was hailed a success by organisers after thousands of visitors flocked to the event in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire.
Last year the country’s biggest agricultural show was forced to close early after muddy conditions caused by wet weather, but the four-day event at Stoneleigh Park, which finishes on Sunday, opened without a hitch and only one rain shower.
The show includes livestock competitions, displays and demonstrations about farming and country living, as well as arena displays, show jumping and crafts. There is also a food hall, farmers market and flower show.
This year is the first time the Royal Show is being held over a weekend with organisers the Royal Agricultural Society of England (Rase) expecting more than the event’s usual 140,000 visitors.
The decision follows a noticeable drop in the number of livestock entries this year as the Royal Showground remains in a bluetongue surveillance zone.
Only livestock from within the surveillance zone or animals that have been vaccinated and blood tested in line with Defra regulations have been allowed to attend the show, meaning only 25 per cent of the normal number have been allowed to appear at the show.
A Rase spokeswoman said the event had seen an improvement on last year’s weather conditions and the drop in livestock numbers had not put visitors off.
“It is going very well,” she said. “We have had one rain shower but that hasn’t put anyone off and the sun has been out. We started off with a dry build-up which helps.
Highlights this year include a visit from the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall on Friday and a new sustainability feature.
The royal couple will be welcomed by The Marquis of Salisbury, president of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, and Hugh Oliver-Bellasis, chairman of the Rase trustees.
Mr Oliver-Bellasis said the trustees were “delighted” to welcome Prince Charles and Camilla.
“Their Royal Highnesses’ presence will be a real boost to morale in what has been a difficult year both for the society and the farming community,” he said. “The Prince of Wales has particularly asked to see the cattle, pig and poultry sectors, all of which have suffered in the past year.”
New to the show this year is the Energy and Sustainability Park – concentrating on aspects of energy, non-food crops and bio-energy with a focus on various renewable energy technologies. These include an anaerobic digestion, green fuels such as bio-diesel and bio ethanol, the role of non-food and energy crops and wind and solar power.
Denis Chamberlain, Rase’s director of communications and marketing, said: “Alternative energy and global warming issues are at the top of the agenda at the moment.
“Farmers have the land on which to grow alternative energy crops or site windmills so there is a great deal of interest in what farmers can do to help.”