The showground at Westpoint, Exeter is a hive of activity as final preparations are made in time for the 123rd Devon County Show on May 17, 18 and 19.
The stewards are briefed, exhibitors are setting up their stands and the stalls, pens, stables and kennels are ready for all the animals.
“The stage is set, the players are nearly ready and we can’t wait to lift the curtain on Thursday morning for Devon’s big day out!” said Show Secretary Ollie Allen.
More than 90,000 visitors are expected to see some of the best livestock, taste fabulous local food and drink, experience country life and enjoy a wealth of entertainment.
New this year is the Watering Hole, a huge red and blue marquee accommodating street food, live music and plenty of seats. For the first time, music will carry on into the evening with Queen tribute band Rhapsody on Thursday and a Sparks tribute act on Friday.
“Saturday is a big day in the national calendar,” added Ollie Allen, “and we’ve installed a huge LED screen in ‘The Watering Hole’ our new picnic pavilion to give visitors a ring-side seat at the Royal Wedding, the Exeter Chiefs rugby match and the FA Cup final. There’s no need to miss the action and you can enjoy all the fun of the Show, too. So come early, stay late and most of all, relax and enjoy.”
There will be thousands of farm animals and horses, a huge food and drink pavilion, a fabulous floral art, gardens and rural crafts feature, a busy countryside area, a wide variety of exciting and entertaining displays and, for the farmer visitor, plenty of agricultural machinery to look at.
Visitors can walk between the pens and see prize-winning animals standing quietly as the stockmen pamper and prepare them for their big moment when they are judged. On Friday and Saturday, they can take in the spectacle of the grand parade of livestock being walked around the Rathbones main arena.
Also starring in the main arena’s packed programme of entertainment are the Monster Trucks show (Friday and Saturday), show jumping, Zorb football and other countryside displays.
In the massive Food and Drink Pavilion visitors will be able to sample from stands offering everything from artisan cheese to local gin, spelt bread to honey and charcuterie. For the first time home cooks will be competing for the accolade of star baker in new cakes and preserves classes in the Baking Competitions.
Celebrity chefs including Devon’s Michelin star chef Michael Caines, will be taking their turns in the demonstration kitchen and provide mouth-watering dishes made from local sourced produce.
Life-sized inflatable ocean creatures will float inside the new Ocean Discovery Zone staged by marine conservation organisations and the Children’s ‘Farmwise’ Farm will offer youngsters a wide array of hands-on activities.
In the Crafts and Gardens feature the clock will turn back to the First World War with displays about the Women’s Land Army alongside 30,000 handmade poppies which commemorate the South West lives lost in the conflict. Falklands War veteran, Simon Weston, will be exhibiting in the feature on Saturday.
The Show will be throwing a huge Royal wedding party on the Saturday with live TV coverage, a mass confetti throw and a head gear competition. There will be wedding trees for visitors to write their good wishes and, after the Show, the messages will sent to the Royal couple together with a wedding present of a Devon tree sapling to commemorate the Queen’s Commonwealth. The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy project was launched in 2015 when an appeal was made to all 53 Commonwealth nations to contribute areas of indigenous forest to be preserved in perpetuity to mark Her Majesty's lifetime of service to the Commonwealth.
Youngsters can follow the Mole Avon ‘Wheelie Wild Trail’ around the showground and take part in activities at all 12 stops including the FarmWise Children’s Farm where they can get involved in apple pressing, bread baking and seed planting.
The whole Show is for all ages and is really family friendly on Saturday (May 19), when one adult can bring two children (5-15) free.
Advance sales tickets will finish at midnight on Wednesday but tickets can still be purchased online and at the entrances to the showground at On The Gate prices. www.devoncountyshow.co.uk