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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 May, 2003, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
County Show hailed as success
Winning bull at the Devon County Show

Organisers and exhibitors at the 2003 Devon County Show have said the annual three-day event has been a major success.

Early estimates suggest that despite the gloomy weather, more than 80,000 people visited the Westpoint Centre in Exeter.

This year's show was the first complete show free of the spectre of foot-and-mouth after the disease caused devastation in 2001.

In 2001, the show went ahead with no livestock. In 2002, the cattle were back. This year saw the return of the sheep and goats.

We've got things back to pre-foot-and-mouth levels
Lord Whitty

Despite undeniably gloomy weather, which saw rain over all three days of the show, there were thousands at showground and, for the first time, overflow car parks being used.

Chief steward Edward Darke said: "The shepherds and owners are absolutely thrilled.

"We've had a marvellous entry of nearly 900 animals. The record is just over 1,000, so it's been really good."

This was a sentiment echoed by the farming minister visiting the show on Saturday.

Lord Whitty visited the county show last year and said this year there was a more positive air about the farming community.

Crowd at the Devon County Show
About 80,000 people attended the show over three days

He said: "I think we've come a long way, and, more particularly, the general atmosphere is more upbeat amongst the farmers and food processors I've been talking to.

"Also, it seems there's huge support from the general public.

"We've got things back to pre-foot-and-mouth levels."

While at the show, Lord Whitty also announced a 250,000 grant for an organic farm in south Devon

Riverford Organics, based near Totnes, is to receive the money from a fund designed to help farmers move into food processing and marketing.

It will be used to expand the farm's "vegetable box" delivery service, which the farm uses to sell produce directly to customers.

Big crowds set for show
15 May 03  |  Devon

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