WITH a sunny weekend forecast and record cattle entries, the Royal Three Counties Show opened at Malvern today in very optimistic mood.
Around 96,000 visitors are expected through the gates of the Blackmore showground over the next three days and organisers are upbeat after a couple of damp years.
Show communications manager Sharon Gilbert said: "2014 is a really special year for the show.
As well as the Royal title we now have the Princess Royal as our patron and to top it all, our animal entries are at an all time high and the sun promises to shine all weekend.
"We are are really looking forward to everything coming together and taking us one step closer to becoming England’s premier livestock event."
The Royal Three Counties has a total of 970 cattle this year, around 30 beasts up on the last record entry in 2012, when the breed societies were out in force with their national shows.
Even more significantly, the beef entry is now higher than that of the Great Yorkshire Show and The Royal Highland Show, both major events on the livestock showing circuit.
Show manager Doreen Smillie, who has been involved with the event for nearly four decades, said she was thrilled to see the Society’s longest running event going from strength to strength in recent years.
She added: "Agricultural shows usually reflect the fortunes of the industry they serve and the challenges of animal disease, falling market prices and inclement weather conditions have certainly impacted this event in varying degrees over the years.
In recent years, we have worked extremely hard to give the show a new look, with dedicated zoning and improved showing facilities, and since 2009, it has paid dividends."
Livestock entries are up across the board on 2013 numbers and the Beef Burke Trophy, the FA Cup of the beef showing world, which was originally presented annually at the Royal Show at Stoneleigh from 1951 until its closure in 2009, will be contested at Malvern for the first time.
The sheep tally stands at 2470, an increase of 169 from last year, there are nearly 400 pig entries, including rare breeds, rare breeds, and almost 300 goat entries. Additionally, poultry stands at just under 800 entries, and alpacas at just over 100.
Other attractions at the show, which closes at 6pm on Sunday, include a farming village with national breed society shows, the daily grand parade of livestock, rare and minority breeds shows and competition sheep shearing.
Arena entertainment includes the Bolddog Lings motorcycle stunt team (semi-finalists in Britain’s Got Talent) and the Red Devils parachute display team.
There’s also an International Orchid Show, countryside pursuits, a children’s discovery zone and around 600 tradestands.