Royal Welsh Show: Nearly 50,000 visitors on first day

Nearly 50,000 people have visited the Royal Welsh Show in Powys on the first day of the annual agricultural event.

But Monday's attendance of 48,610 was 3,800 down on last year's, and 2,000 below the Llanelwedd show's five-year average.

Officials blamed the tough economic climate and poor weather conditions for the drop in visitors.

Meanwhile, a small group of anti-wind farm protesters have confronted First Minister Carwyn Jones at the show.

Mr Jones was approached by about six campaigners from Montgomeryshire Against Pylons as he left an event on the showground.

They are opposed to plans to build wind turbines, pylons and an electricity sub-station in Powys.

Image caption Protesters confronted Carwyn Jones at the Royal Welsh Show on Monday

The group told Mr Jones they recognised the Welsh Government's support, but felt that suggestions of using less obtrusive structures would not meet the needs of the power generating companies, so it was an approach that was not effective.

They appealed to Mr Jones to see the situation for himself, and he agreed on the condition that UK government ministers were also involved in any visits.

Thousands converged on the showground on Monday morning, but there have been no reports of major traffic problems.

Judging of horses, cattle and sheep started at 0800 BST, while a motorcycle display team and a regimental band entertained the crowds.

As the rain came down at the show on Monday attention turned to the main ring's new drainage system.

Image caption A new drainage system is intended to prevent a repeat of quagmire conditions in recent years

Show organisers hope the £200,000 system will ensure the smooth running of the event.

Wet weather at three of the last four shows has turned the main ring into a mudbath making it difficult to show animals at their best and to stage spectacular displays.

It was installed during the winter and is designed to handle 20 times as much rain as previously.

It increases the drainage rate from 2mm (0.07in) per hour to 150mm (6in) per hour.

Show director Harry Fetherstonhaugh warned that despite the improvements, the ring may still have to be vacated during showers to allow it to drain and avoid surface damage.

Despite last year's weather, more than 230,000 people attended the Powys show ground.

Lancaster bomber

Cuts have forced some public bodies to scale down their presence at the event, with Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire national parks withdrawing completely.

But the show's secretary Barry Jones said other organisations have stepped in to take over the stalls.

"There have been public bodies that have had to look at their budgets and cut back as they see fit," he said.

"But we are so fortunate for the support we have from Wales and beyond to the extent that if a vacancy, a space becomes available then it is quickly filled by those who want to attend."

Meanwhile, it has been announced the Duke of Kent will visit the show on Wednesday, while a World War II Lancaster bomber from the RAF's Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will be in the skies about the event on Tuesday.

On Monday, the new Montgomery members' pavilion was officially opened.

The show takes place until 21 July.

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