THE Cheshire Show just keeps on growing.
Every one of the dozens of sections expanded again this year-and all the traditional animals and interests were out in strength.
Crowds on the opening day of Tuesday touched regular record levels without quite matching last year's one-off figure of 40,000.
Show chairman John Platt, leading his team for the 28th consecutive event, was particularly pleased by a last minute surge in entries for the cattle classes, which have suffered in recent years under government regulation and the general problems of the livestock industry.
The 220 acre Tabley show-ground offered the smoothest traffic flow in the history of the Cheshire Agricultural Society.
'This is certainly the best ground the show has ever had' was the verdict of this year's President, John Richards.
This 2006 show was a first for Nigel Evans, appointed as chief executive after the sudden death of long serving secretary David Broster last year.
'This has been a wonderful experience,' Nigel said on Wednesday morning, as the crowds moved in for the second day. 'I've had my fingers crossed all through the build up, because although you can get everything worked out on paper, it's seeing it on the ground that counts, so to stand here today watching everything working out is a tremendous thrill.'
An important move for 2006 has been to upgrade the traditional Country Sports Section into a full blown Game Fair, which featured displays of every country sport, and shared with the main ring the staging of dog obedience and training events.
Another growth area has been the Rare Breeds Section, with keen interest in the judging of superb pigs from what are now specialised strains, such as the Tamworth, the Middle White, and the Gloucester Old Spots.
But it was horses that dominated the two days, with over 3,500 making Cheshire the largest horse show in the country, while the 2,000 dogs come only second to Crufts.
Moo-ving figures > > >
A LAST minute surge in entries brought special interest to the central cattle sections of the Cheshire Show, with the organisers hoping to touch 400, but finally reaching a heartening 510.
This is well above the figures seen in the classic post war decades of the show, although not quite up to the record levels of the early eighties which came close to the coveted thousand mark, but never quite made it.
The new diverse pattern of livestock farming is mirrored by the growing number of breeds in the show rings, with seven dairy and seven beef types forming sections, and more unusual lines appearing under the heading of 'any other'.
The familiar Hereford showed an encouraging entry, after a period of relative eclipse from continental competition. The best bull was shown by the Shaw partnership from Ledsham in Wirral. The Nicholas and Heath partnership from Tarvin won the next cow class, and the breed championship and male award went to the Shaws, with the exhibitor's prize to follow.
Step lively say staff
TV NATURALIST David Bellamy was at the Cheshire Show and used the opportunity to stop by the Cheshire County Council display to congratulate staff on winning a rosette for their entry in the Non-Agricultural Trade Stand category.
For the third year running, the county council encouraged people from the county and beyond to Step into Cheshire and see what is on offer - whether walking, cycling or on horseback.
The Countryside Service had Countryside Rangers and staff on site to demonstrate how easy it is to explore Cheshire.
They were assisted by a dozen computers on board the county council's OSCARs - their One Stop Community Access Roadshows - which feature 'virtual' walks on screen.
Alongside the county council stand is the Cheshire Waste Partnership, promoting how county and district councils are supporting waste reduction and recycling.