Glorious start to Royal Norfolk Show
IAN CLARKE Just perfect! That was the early verdict as the 2006 Royal Norfolk Show got off to a glorious start today.
That was the early verdict as the 2006 Royal Norfolk Show got off to a glorious start today.
The showground at Costessey, near Norwich, was basking in warm sunshine as thousands of visitors flocked in on the first day of the two-day showcase of agriculture, rural crafts, business, entertainment and glamour.
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Traffic was heavy, as always, but despite a couple of hold ups on the approach roads from Dereham and Watton caused by broken down cars and sheer volume of vehicles, police reported few problems.
Temperatures were forecast to rise to 22C and are likely to go a couple of degrees higher tomorrow.
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Last year's overall two day attendance figures of 90,000 were 10,000 down on the 2004 total and weather had been blamed for the drop. So hopes are high that this year's sun and warmth will push the 2006 figure up to around 100,000.
John Law, at UEA-based WeatherQuest, predicted sunny spells and rising temperatures for today and tomorrow.
He said: “It looks like it will be a really nice couple of days. It will be dry with a bit more sun coming in. On Wednesday we will be beginning to see this cloud edge away and that will pick up even more on Thursday when we will see temperatures of 23 or 24 degrees celsius.”
Show organiser Sarah de Chair said the upturn in weather had brought a similar lift in ticket sales.
She said: “Online sales are the highest they have ever been as are sales on the credit card hotline. We have changed quite a lot of things around this year as we want to get away from the image that it is the same every year.
“The food hall is now in the permanent exhibition building and that is where the cookery theatres will be held so hopefully we will get people there who have never made it to its old home in the northern end of the ground before.”
One of the first day highlights was the visit of the Duke of Wessex, who was due to take part in celebrations of the golden jubilee of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme.
Prince Edward had a busy five-hour programme of visits lined up at the showground.
Gordon Bambridge, secretary of the Norfolk and Norwich Horticultural Society, said the organisation's section at the main show had been transformed to reflect 21st century gardening.
The name has even changed from the Flower Show to the Gardeners Show as it embraced more hard landscaping, outside water features and furniture.
Mr Bambridge said: “Whether you have a walled estate or 15ft of courtyard backing on to a city centre flat there will be something here for you.”
One of the main show's more unusual attractions will be a parade of Norfolk Beauties, three generations of eight prize-winning cows.
Farmer Nigel Kennard said the family of Instead Beauties was extremely rare as it was unusual to get so many female calves within the same family up to show standard.
“You don't get such a consistently high standard usually so this is really quite unique.”
Other events and attractions include horse and dog displays and the Native Nations Dance Theatre, a troupe of native Americans from Philadelphia who will perform traditional dances.
There will be birds of prey, an improved children's activity area for younger visitors, show jumping and a Banham Zoo display.
The EDP and EDP Norfolk magazine will also have special stands.
The Royal Norfolk Show opens each day at 8am. Tickets on the gate cost £16 for adults (£13 concessions), £5 for children up to 16 with under-fives free. A family ticket for two adults and three children costs £39.