WIRRAL Show organisers hailed the event a success yesterday despite visitor numbers being down by almost half.

Last year an estimated 300,000 people enjoyed the peninsula's entertainments at New Brighton over two days but this weekend it was thought only around 160,000 turned out because of the poor weather.

In the 10 years Rotary Club chairman Alan Robinson has been organising the show, he said it was only the second weekend when people stayed away because of poor weather.

Mr Robinson said: "Even though visitor numbers were down, it was still a successful show, with people who did come prepared to spend money.

"Traders reported that they were even running out of their merchandise and having to restock by Saturday night which is a good sign for them.

"Next year we hope for slightly better weather and the odds are in our favour as eight of the past 10 years have been sunny."

A small fire alert took place when scrub on a nearby railway embankment caught fire but most visitors did not even notice.

Mr Robinson added: "Clouds did not stop any of the displays, the flypasts and parachutists still went ahead.

"The Hawk aircraft even gave us an extra early flypast which gave us a bit of a fright because we weren't expecting it."

Fairground rides and exhibition tents took their place alongside businesses and charities in what has been described as a premier event by Wirral Mayor Hilary Jones.

Air shows wowed the crowds with parachute displays and light combat aircraft.

Main events included the Blue Arrows Motorcycle Display team, Utterly Butterly wing walkers on Saturday, sheep dog trials, the Wallasey Sea Cadets Band and Gerard Naprous's Wild West Show.

Visitors showed their appreciation by starting out early and spending the whole day wandering among the attractions.

Doris Oakes, from Noctorum, came to the show with her partner and four grandchildren.

She said: "We've been to the show before for about the last five years and find that every year it's very good.

"The kids love the fairground rides and everything's described as 'OK' until they get to the rides, then they say everything's 'brilliant'.

"It's the same good fun each year without fail."

The importance of the show for the businesses of the Wirral was also highlighted.

Sam Talbot, from West Kirby, said: "We have come back to the show again this year because we like it so much last year.

"It's free entertainment on the whole and it must be good for the Wirral economy.

"The kids can enjoy the rides while the grown-ups look at all the exhibits like the gadget tent."

* THE weekend also saw the continuation of the Formby Festival. Visitors to the Lifeboat Road site on Saturday and Sunday were treated to an insight into the lives of Roman soldiers by Chester-based Roman Tours.

The programme of evening concerts also continued with a Battle of the Bands night on Friday, Humphrey Littleton and his jazz band on Saturday and a folk night on Sunday.