Livestock starring at Surrey County Show

image captionPig racing is among the attractions at the Surrey County Show

Increasing interest in growing food and keeping livestock has led organisers of this year's Surrey County Show to aim for a more rural atmosphere.

Up to 40,000 people were expected to visit Stoke Park near Guildford on Monday for the show, which had 2.5 miles of tents and marquees.

"There is a huge resurgence in growing your own food," said chief executive Sonia Ashworth.

"It is the same for animals - people are interested in keeping livestock."

Ms Ashworth said the show would feature a large vegetable garden to show visitors growing techniques but it was primarily an agricultural showcase.

More livestock

"We have fantastic livestock classes and it is a showcase for farmers in Surrey and the South East," she said.

"This year we have got a larger livestock entry than we have had in years."

Seventy judges are adjudicating in the competition classes.

Show steward Richard Lutwyche said classes for pigs were reintroduced to the show two years ago, and had proved popular with the public.

"I don't know whether it is the recession or just the general mood in the country but there is a huge interest in keeping animals," he said.

"It started off with people wanting to keep a few chickens in the back garden and now it seems to be spreading to pigs and people wanting to know where their food has come from and that the pork in their freezer had a good life while it was being raised.

Art exhibition

"So we are trying to educate them and guide them along the right lines.

The show, which takes three weeks to assemble at Stoke Park, also has light-hearted classes, such as the grumpiest pig, and pig races.

The non-agricultural stands include an exhibition of paintings by the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists.

Spokesman Tom Yendell, who was born without arms or hands because of the drug Thalidomide, said: "We went to the Surrey show last year and were so impressed by the number of people there and the range of things that they had on show.

"I thought it was a really good place for us to show our artists' work."

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