Preview: East of England Show 2009

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THE region's leading countryside and lifestyle show begins at the East of England Showground today(Friday).

THE region's leading countryside and lifestyle show begins at the East of England Showground today(Friday).As ever, the East of England Show is a celebration of all things rural, and the ever popular livestock classes have record entries this year, with many new classes for all to enjoy.

Thousands are expected to make their way to the showground, in Alwalton, near Peterborough, for the first of a packed three days of events, which isn't just about animals and machinery, but also has a strong emphasis on home-grown produce.

And the fun doesn't stop when the sun starts to set, as this year's show will be headlined by '60s pop sensations Marmalade, who play the indoor exec arena tomorrow night.

Today is the main livestock showing day, and entries have flooded in from the best of British livestock farmers and breeders.

There will be a full programme of equestrian classes, which will continue throughout the weekend, including all breeds of horses, from Shetlands to Shires, and some great showjumping classes.

Entry price each day and admissions policy

ADMISSION for Friday costs 5 for adults and senior citizens – children get in for free.

Advanced tickets for Saturday and Sunday are priced at: family (two adults and two children) 23, adult 11, senior (65+) 9 and children (five to 16 years) 5.

You can book by telephone by calling 0845 600 5445 or download an advanced ticket booking form from www.showground.org.uk.

On-the-gate prices for Saturday and Sunday – family (two and two) 28, adult 14, senior (65+) 11 and children (five to 16 years) 6.50.

Gates open from 8am to 6pm, and car parking is free, with a network of level Tarmac roads for ease of access for the disabled.

Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a full paying adult.

Dogs must be kept on leads at all times (dogs will not be allowed in the food hall).

Vintage agricultural and steam machinery and classic cars will have a larger section this year, and the demonstrations and parades by these magnificent machines will be a treat for all nostalgia buffs.

Food remains at the heart of the show, and the children's pizza kitchen will give children the opportunity to cook their own pizza while learning how their food gets from the farm to their plate.

The food hall will contain many of the region's best food and drink producers, selling their delicious produce.

Few will be able to resist the Peterborough International Orchid Show, which will be open on all three days of the show.

Chief executive of the East of England Agricultural Society, Andrew Mercer, said: "This year is really focusing in on the farming core of the show.

"The show will continue to entertain and inform people about farming, food and all things rural. It is also a fabulous day out for the whole family, with something of interest for all ages."

Pizza kitchen: A slice of the action

CHILDREN can go along to the pizza kitchen and rustle up a delicious dough-based treat of their own.

Situated in the exec Peterborough exhibition hall, youngsters can learn where all the ingredients come from, and how they get from the farm to the plate.

All the ingredients used in the kitchen will be sourced from British farmers and producers.

Then, once your belly is full of pizza, pay a visit to the working farmyard, where you can explore the machinery and livestock that you will find on a farm.

It's possible to climb aboard the combine harvester and discover which piece of machinery does which job and at what point in the crop cycle.

There will also be plenty of livestock you can get close to, including sheep, pigs, cattle and poultry.

Fresh local produce

KEEP hunger at bay by delving into the culinary delights and catering at this year's show.

There is a wide range of catering options, so you are sure to find something to satisfy your taste. All the food that is available for consumption at the show is sourced through the Food Direct From The Farm scheme.

This initiative aims to promote British agriculture by sourcing supplies from farmer members of the East of England Agricultural Society, as well as from local, regional and national suppliers.

The food hall gives you the opportunity to sample and buy some of the very best in British produce, and will feature everything you can think of, from artisan breads and traditional farmhouse cheeses, to English wine, scrumptious sausages and hand made cakes.

Saturday and Sunday the indoor food stage is home to top chefs from Peterborough hotels, who will be dishing out inspirational tips and recipe ideas..