'It has restored faith': Norfolk Show organisers estimate visitor numbers could match 2018's high
PUBLISHED: 18:49 27 June 2019 | UPDATED: 08:37 28 June 2019
ARCHANT EASTERN DAILY PRESS (01603) 772434
A high attendance at this year's Royal Norfolk Show has "restored faith" following an uncertain period, organisers say.
After a strong first day, visitors numbers for the 2019 show are thought to have matched last year's total of 85,000 - the highest number for 10 years, which was boosted by hot weather.
Greg Smith, chief executive of the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association (RNAA), which runs the show, hopes a second year of strong visitor numbers means the show is "back on track" following a difficult year in 2017.
"The crowds flocked back to the show for the second day and early estimates show that our numbers match last year's, which is excellent news," he said.
"One of the factors in why it retains its popularity is we manage to maintain all the traditional elements, but we are constantly refreshing areas and introducing new ones."
This approach was demonstrated by a successful second year for the Sunset Sounds evening entertainment programme, which saw more than 1,500 visitors crowd into the Woodland Arena on the Wednesday evening.
Mr Smith said its popularity was also evidence of the association's growing skill set outside its agricultural base.
"But we hold on to the agricultural element; it remains absolutely at the core, and as tempting as it might be dilute that or shift the effort away from it we certainly do not see that as a strategy that would be a positive one for the future," he said.
This year saw a significant first for the show: an endorsement by the Royal family on Twitter, following a visit on Wednesday by Sophie, Countess of Wessex, current president of the RNAA.
Mr Smith said the "Royal seal of approval" was an important moment for the show - which began in 1847 when Queen Victoria was in the early years of her reign.
The weather was not quite as fine as forecast, with persistent cloud cover and breezy conditions keeping the hotly-anticipated RAF Falcons parachute display team grounded until Thursday evening.
But crowds were wowed by other attractions including the Household Cavalry and Band of the Parachute Regiment, while a record number of livestock entries took their places in the judging ring.
Relive all the action from this year's Royal Norfolk Show at www.edp24.co.uk.