PICTURE GALLERY: Wellies galore at Holkham Country Fair

There was a party atmosphere at Holkham Country Fair when torrential rain finally gave way to some welcome sunshine.

The biennial event, held at one of Norfolk's finest country estates, was blighted by persistent wet weather yesterday.

Visitor numbers were down, takings suffered and displays in the Grand Ring were disrupted - but it was an entirely different story today (Sunday) when there have been only showers to contend with.

An estimated 20,000 people have descended on the grounds of Viscount Coke's ancestral home, near Wells, to celebrate countryside pursuits and produce.

'The weather was a real spoiler for us and obviously it reduced the crowd enormously, but we have a lot more people here now and they are still arriving all the time,' said organiser Christopher Lloyd Owen this morning.

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'There's a big crowd, a very happy atmosphere and people all have smiles on their faces - what more can you ask for? I wouldn't be surprised if we had 20,000 people here and we are in line for a full programme of activities.'

With Holkham Hall providing a stunning backdrop, the fair offers a feast of trade stands, classic cars, crafts, fairground rides and a fine food village.

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Demonstrations include beekeeping, basket making, clay pigeon shooting and wood carving and there is also the chance to try a number of countryside activities including sailing on the lake, fishing and archery.

The Grand Ring has already provided hours of entertainment and Mr Lloyd Owen said the Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry - the Queen's ceremonial guards - had been a real high point yesterday.

'It was a very special moment for Holkham,' he added.

The regiment's first appearance at the fair comes the weekend before its annual open days at the training base at Bodney Camp, near Watton.

During the fair weekend the volunteer army includes 40 stewards and a 100-strong Norfolk cadet force on gate-keeping and car park duties. Added to that are hundreds of event organisers and stall-holders as well as medical teams, police and vets.

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