Thousands of visitors streamed in to Bakewell to enjoy the sun, sights, sounds and smells at one of the oldest agricultural shows in the country.
Organisers hoped this year’s Little Royal would be the most family-friendly yet with a packed programme of activities kicking off yesterday.
Bosses were delighted by a record number of entries in the popular livestock contest.
More than 300 animals were entered for judging with cattle entries being boosted by the introduction of classes for longhorns.
And there were record entries in the meat products classes in the Food and Farming area too.
Steward, and former show president, Edwin Mosley, said: “We’ve had record entries and we’re hoping for record crowds too.
“We want to demonstrate to the public the quality of British agriculture and the quality of livestock we have here and why they should be buying British.”
The 181st Bakewell Show saw regular favourites such as animal shows, equine classes, food stalls, crafts and a variety of children’s entertainment, alongside new attractions such as the launch of the Bakewell Brownie.
The confection – set to rival the famous pudding – was showcased to the public for the first time yesterday.
Moria Elliot, of the Bakewell Brownie Company, said: “It’s a family recipe for brownies with a twist on the traditional Bakewell.
“This is the first time it will be sold to the public and we are looking forward to finding out what people think.”
Mrs Elliot, of Ashover, added that for each brownie sold they would be donating money to support the show building fund and two lucky visitors would win special VIP tickets for next year’s show and an overnight stay at the Rutland Arms Hotel.
Centre ring attractions this year included daredevil horsewoman Amanda Saville with her Chariots of Fire display, the traditional Grand Parade – a procession of all the livestock and heavy horse winners – equestrian sport and the ever popular performances by the Storybag Theatre company.
The site was alive with activity as farmers and traders from across the country took part in the biggest date in the country show calendar.
A variety of food stalls with everything from cakes and sweets to pies and sausages were on offer.
Returning to the show was Majorie Toms, of the Lime Tree Pantry Foods, which specialises in handmade fruit and savoury pies.
She said: “We always get a very good customer reaction in Bakewell and we come to the farmers market.
“Thousands of people turn out to Bakewell Show and they all seem to like good, wholesome foods. I think people look forward to the show on a year to year basis. There really is something for everybody.”
Stalls selling everything from walking shoes to cars were dotted around the site as well as children’s attractions including donkey rides and Punch and Judy shows and the popular craft tent selling a range of goods.
Antony Allen, of The Bakewell Soap Company based at Riverside Business Park, had returned to the show for the third year to sell his natural handmade soap.
He said: “Shows like this are our life blood. It’s our main way of getting our brand out there and it’s pretty vital to local businesses.”
Other highlights included the popular dog show, the rabbit tent, exhibitions of vintage vehicles, mammoth vegetables and elegant flower arrangements and for equine enthusiasts there was show jumping in the Grand Parade.
Celebrity vet Joe Inglis was also set to host a talk on Wednesday evening about his experiences in Vets in Practice and chatting to visitors about their pets health.
Elsewhere, food demonstrations took place and visitors had a chance to pick up cookery tips and bring along their own favourite recipes to pin to a giant ‘cooking pot’.
Show director Brian Bakel said the event was a fun day out for all the family and this year it was even better value for money than ever.
He added: “Families deserve to have some fun during the summer holidays, which is why we made the decision that this year we would not charge for children under 16.”
Show manager Janet Bailey said: “It’s been extremely busy and everyone is reporting lots of people about.
“I think the weather has helped – a bit of sunshine helps everyone – and people seem to be enjoying themselves.”
Janet added that this year’s show was time also a time for a touch of nostalgia.
For when the final bills have been settled at the end of this month, the dilapidated old wooden office, which has been the hub of show for the past 60 years, will be dismantled and replaced by a new purpose-built headquarters.
She added: “It will be with a touch of sadness, the building has served us well, but it is falling apart.
“We are really looking forward to starting work on the new office in the autumn ready for the 2012 show.”
Today the show continues with more exhibitions and demonstrations including the UK’s first horse-drawn hearse championship which has attracted more than 12 entries of old and modern working horse-drawn hearses from all over the country.
The day will also see a parade of hounds, children’s show ponies, vintage motorbikes and pigeon and poultry competitions.