COOL temperatures and blustery winds were not enough to deter thousands of visitors who flocked to Ingliston as the biggest event in Scotland’s agricultural calendar got under way.
The 2014 Royal Highland Show saw record attendances, with nearly 180,000 over the four-day run.
But early indications suggest there will be even more at this year’s 175th outing.
Organisers were unable to give accurate attendance figures yesterday, but they said 43,000 tickets were sold on one day this week alone.
And regular visitors said the opening day seemed busier than the same time a year ago, despite 2014’s fairer weather.
Ruth Caskie travels to the show every year from her home near Largs, Ayrshire, where she and her husband farm black-faced sheep. She said: “We always come on the Thursday and it used to be fairly quiet. We got here early this morning and it was already filling up. Now it is so busy. But it is very pleasant to walk around in – there is a great atmosphere.”
Geoff Corke, who has been coming to the show for the past 12 years from Norfolk, where he runs an international sperm bank for cattle breeders, said the event was a crucial showcase for the UK’s best livestock.
She said: “We haven’t got a royal show in England, but this is a hell of a showplace for Scotland’s and the UK’s agriculture. I’m here looking at looking at bulls that could be future donors – all the best animals are here.
“There seems to be a real buzz about the place, even though last year was a lot hotter.”
Yesterday’s events included the launch by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of a new national dairy brand aimed at boosting Scotland’s struggling farmers.
The new Scottish Dairy logo will appear alongside regular branding on around 40 products, providing a guarantee they are made in Scotland from 100 per cent Scottish milk.
As well as human crowds, the show is playing host to around 1000 cattle, 1500 sheep, 2000 horses, 100 goats and more than 500 birds.
A wide array of goods and produce is also on display, as well as demonstrations of skills such as sheep shearing, hands-on activities and even daily catwalk shows.
The show has been running since 1822, when it was held on the current site of the Scottish Parliament.
It has been held at the Ingliston showground since 1960, before which time it moved to different locations around the country.
Last year’s show generated an estimated £47 million for the Scottish economy.