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2018 Royal Norfolk Show recorded best attendance for 10 years, say organisers

The 2018 Royal Norfolk Show recorded the event's best attendance for a decade.  Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The 2018 Royal Norfolk Show recorded the event's best attendance for a decade. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

This summer’s sun-drenched Royal Norfolk Show attracted its biggest attendance for 10 years – helped by new initiatives to improve the visitor experience, said organisers.

The Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA) said its flagship two-day event brought 85,000 visitors to the Norfolk Showground in June, including more than 10,000 school children.

The figure marks an 18pc increase from the 72,000 who visited the rain-affected event in 2017, and a significant improvement on the five-year average of 80,000.

Show director Mark Nicholas said while the contrasting weather “clearly played a role” in the fortunes at the gate, he attributed more than 60pc of this year’s rise to the effect of new measures introduced in 2018.

“We did a review of the show over the winter and it highlighted that we have got a cracking event, but there were things we could do to enhance the visitor experience,” he said. “So we implemented two key enhancements.

“Firstly, we scrapped the car parking charge for our public visitors, and we know that was popular because daily ticket sales went up by 10pc from the moment it was launched on May 1.

“The second enhancement was to introduce an evening programme to extend the opening hours and offer a midsummer evening ticket from 4pm.

“That meant keeping the food hall open, extending the Grand Ring programme, and introducing a woodland arena with bands and music through the evening. We know that over 4,000 people stayed to attend that evening event.

“We think about 60pc of the uplift [in visitor numbers] was down to the measures we put in place. Ticket sales throughout the whole process had been out-performing not only 2017, but 2016 and 2015 as well.”

Mr Nicholas said both initiatives will be repeated in 2019 as the show aims to retain its appeal, despite the national trend of falling visitor numbers at county shows across the UK.

“The show has to continue to be relevant and it has to be of utility,” he said. “We achieve that by ensuring the show is at the cutting edge of its game.

“We are introducing new content and refreshing areas around the show so it is not the same event every year. The fact we have seen a significant uplift in ticket sales this year tells me that people see a compelling reason to come to the show. We have made it more attractive to them, and we are giving people more choice.”

THE 2018 ROYAL NORFOLK SHOW IN NUMBERS

• Visitors: 85,000

• School children: 10,250

• Schools involved: 224

• Volunteers: 315

• Universities: 4

• Businesses taking part: 710

• Food and drink producers: 112

• Sponsors: 114

• Community groups: 35

• Charities supported: 25

• Performance stages: 6

• Music performances: 84

• Performers: 1,503

• Livestock: 2,678

• Horses: 1,658

• Acres: 386

NORFOLK HARFEST

This weekend, the RNAA will extend its promotion of food, farming and the countryside into the heart of the city as Norfolk HarFest returns to Norwich Cathedral with a farmers’ market, displays of machinery and livestock, and entertainment stages both inside and outside the cathedral.

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