THE SKIES were grey but Stafford's County Showground was awash with colour as families flocked to the Staffordshire County Show.
Hardy showgoers kicked the rain into touch by arriving prepared with wellies and umbrellas. The showground was bustling by mid-morning despite the drizzle and many visitors had bought their tickets in advance.
Local farmers, who brought the pick of their livestock to the judging ring, rubbed shoulders with traders selling everything from fine food to Porsches. Demand for trade space was so high this year that it ran out a week ago.
Showground chief executive Richard Williams said it was the first time this had happened in his 17 years at the helm.
"It is amazing, whether for our reputation as a good shop window or whether it is part of the economic recovery. It certainly seems there is more confidence and what is particularly pleasing is a resurgence on the 'sole trader' and small family businesses"
In the livestock sheds sheep space was also at a premium, with some exhibitors being turned away because pens were full. Cattle numbers were up on last year too, Mr Williams said.
A new addition to the show, an indoor picnic area, proved a hit and foodies were spoilt for choice with a feast of regional produce.
Joey, the equine star of movie War Horse, was wowing the crowds in the main ring as part of a thrilling display by the Devil's Horsemen and other attractions over the two days include showjumping, woodland crafts and vintage vehicle displays.
Organisers remain optimistic for drier conditions today to bring out even more visitors. See next week's Newsletter for more pictures and results.