The Royal Norfolk Show is the biggest event of the year attracting tens of thousands to its unique mix of country-side pursuits, spectacular displays, cream teas and fashions. STACIA BRIGGS previews 25 things not to miss.

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There are countless reasons to visit the Royal Norfolk Show, but here we highlights 25 reasons why this year’s celebration of our county is an absolute must-see.

From art to gardening, food to fashion and lifestock to rural crafts, there’s something to delight the whole family at the show….

1. Follow the new family trail. The free trail guides children and their parents around family-friendly and educational attractions, from rare breed animals to beekeeping and free crafts. Trails can be collected for free from catalogue sellers at the entrance gates or from the WI stand.

2. The Flower and Garden Show has been completely redesigned for 2012 and boasts its own Gardeners’ Café where you can pick up light refreshments before enjoying the incredible displays of horticultural know-how. The show is open to the public from 9.30am on Wednesday and 8am on Thursday.

3. Watch the Household Cavalry Musical Ride in the Grand Ring. The Ride is made up of eight soldiers from each of the Life Guards and The Blues and Royals dressed in full state ceremonial uniform with lances instead of swords. The display demonstrates the type of horsemanship used by the regiments in the days when they still fought on horseback.

4. Learn about the county’s heritage with the vintage harvesting demonstrations. The demonstrations by Graham Kirk will show how crops were harvested in the 1950s, cutting corn and tying it into sheaves with a binder to standing the sheaves into stooks or shocks. Demonstrations are on both days at 11am and 2.30pm.

5. There are more than 60 different producers in this year’s Food Hall, including the English Whisky Company, Little Melton Gourmet Yoghurt, Norfolk Apple Juice, Breckland Orchard, Norfolk Fudge Company, Yare Valley Rapeseed Oils, the Bhaji Man and Hill Farm Oils.

6. The Sheep Show takes a fun and educational look at different breeds of sheep with the emphasis on wool. Presented by New Zealanders Richard Savory and Stuart Barnes, nine breeds of sheep are introduced to the audience who then learn about their attributes.

7. The RAF Falcons Freefall Parachute Team display is always a firm favourite at the Royal Norfolk Show, offer-ing visitors the chance to see a nine-man team forming an impressive canopy-stack before drifting down to the drop zone. The team will be performing in the Grand Ring.

8. The Royal Norfolk Show will be celebrating its own 2012 Games in the Grand Ring with a range of events including Norfolk’s Fittest Farmer, a tug-of-war competition, dance groups and a parade of 206 Olympic flags carried by some of Norfolk’s Rising Stars.

9. The Woodland Craft area has grown over the years and this year will be featuring a group of craftspeople showcasing their skills at the Woodland Walk, off Avenue One. Discover the skill involved in pole-lathe turning, corn dolly making, bowl turning, cider-making and a host of other rural crafts.

10. Look out for the vintage fairground with a ferris wheel and helter-skelter and the new vintage farm at the Royal Norfolk Showground.

11. Inspiring cookery demonstrations and tasty, local produce will once again be drawing the crowds at the show as Norfolk food takes centre stage in the Food Hall. The cookery theatre – hosted by Mary Kemp – will include demonstrations from celebrated Norfolk chefs including Richard Hughes, Richard Bainbridge, Sam Bryant, Andy Snowling and Tony Robertson.

12. Showjumper Tim Stockdale will be back in the ring after breaking his neck in two places last year. Tim, who has made no secret of his 2012 Olympic ambitions, will be among a star-studded line-up in this year’s showjumping competitions which also includes big names such as William Funnell, Tina Fletcher and Mark Armstrong.

13. If you have a passion for fashion, head to the John Lewis marquee to enjoy catwalk shows, beauty demonstrations and makeovers. The fashion shows take place on the hour from 11am to 3pm on both days.

14. Have your photograph taken with the Barclays Premier League Trophy. The prestigious trophy will be at the Barclays stand on both days.

15. Meet the world’s rarest donkeys. The rare giant Poitou donkeys, recognisable by their large bodies and shaggy coats, are thought to be rarer than Pandas. Only a handful have been bred in the UK and visitors will be able to meet them.

16. Windsurf with the Whitlingham Outdoor Education Centre, ride a full-size mechanical horse from the British Equestrian Federation, see the boats used by the Norfolk Broads Yacht Club and try fitness equipment from the UEA Sportspark.

17. Enjoy the 1950s themed area with film footage of the Coronation and a selection of vintage items from Norfolk Museum Service’s costume and textile collections.

18. Don’t miss BBC presenters Amelia Reynolds and David Whiteley being given a special makeover by the John Lewis fashion advisers and hair stylists at 12.30pm.

19. A team of style spotters will be out and about at the show scouting for the best-dressed visitors – and visitors can also put themselves forward for the competition. Each day, two £250 Chapelfield Gift Card prizes will be awarded.

20. There are a host of displays in the Countryside Arena to enjoy throughout the Royal Norfolk Show, including dog displays with the Mid-Norfolk Gundogs, Elaine Hill with her ducks and sheep dogs, drug detection dog and dog agility. There will also be rabbiting and ferret demonstrations, terrier racing raft racing and shooting and decoy demonstrations.

21. Watch the Double Harness Scurry Driving in the Grand Ring, a fast and exciting event which sees two ponies running at full gallop to pull a carriage through obstacles. Sporting drivers compete against each other to achieve the fastest time possible.

22. The Art Exhibition has grown from strength-to-strength over the years and now boasts almost 400 exhibits for sale from more than 150 local artists.

23. There are plenty of animal activities to enjoy, including Piggy Tricks displays in the pig rings, the chance to try fly-fishing with Norfolk Fly Fishers and the Salmon and Trout Association and the opportunity to see wild birds up close with the Raptor Trust.

24. A visit to the Royal Norfolk Show wouldn’t be complete without calling in to the Norfolk Federation of Women’s Institutes’ stand in the marquee by the Grand Ring. This year, the WI’s theme is Great Britain celebrates.

25. A record number of cattle and sheep entries have been received for this year’s Royal Norfolk Show, meaning there’s more livestock to see than ever before. See if you can spot the Holsteins, Friesians, Ayshires, Jerseys, Here-fords, South Devons and Shorthorns.

t The Royal Norfolk Show, Norfolk Showground, June 27-28. Gates open 8am-6pm. Tickets on the gate £22 (£20 cons), £9 children (5-16), under-5s free, £62 family ticket (two adults and up to three children). Parking is £6. More details: 01603 748931, www.royalnorfolkshow.co.uk

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