THE countdown has begun and the Royal Bath and West Show is now just days away with entires now open for a full three days of competition. This year’s event promises a bumper catalogue of contents with new themes and classes planned across livestock, equine, food and drink, and arts and horticultural areas.

New to 2024 are two new cattle championships; the Exhibitor Bred Dairy Championship and the Exhibitor Bred Beef Championship – recognising the diligence and care taken to produce top-class homebred stock.

A dual-purpose category will also be added to the dairy schedule, welcoming entries for Dexter cattle and any other dual-purpose breeds. The beef schedule will add classes under a new Any Other Variety Minority Breeds category.

Livestock classes are at he heart of the show, says competitions executive Naomi Guiver, who added: “Dairy, beef, sheep, and pigs are all on the agenda, which has been expanded to include new classes and championships that reflect the quality and purpose of the livestock sector today.”

In the sheep ring, the valuable but differing qualities of male and female breeding stock will be highlighted, with the introduction of Male and Female Breed Championships. This year will not go without a national show, hosting the Southdown Sheep Society with an additional ‘group of four’ class.

Onto the shearing platform, the show will be holding the Six Nations Blade Shearing Team Championships, which will see two-person teams from England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, and France go head-to-head.

The show has always been a mecca for equitation and horsemanship. New to 2024 are the rescue horse and pony classes. “These classes are a real demonstration of determination and compassion,” said Ms Guiver. “Clearly there is a place for rehabilitated and retrained horses and ponies, and we are delighted to recognise that at the show.”

Every year the show draws thousands of people with its feast of local produce - and visitors will welcome the news that this year’s regional food and drink marquee has been further expanded.

The show will once again host the British Cider Championships, which will include a fruit cider class this year. And visitors will not want to miss their chance to get involved with the People’s Choice Award – awarded to the best cider as voted by the public.

“The show is a real celebration of the exceptional quality and taste of South West produce – as well as further afield,” said head of shows, Jess Chiplen.