GALLERY: Showers fail to dampen spirits at Shrewsbury Flower Show
Crowds flocked to Shrewsbury Flower Show as rain showers failed to dampen the spirits of the thousands attending.
The world's oldest flower show enchanted Shrewsbury for the 132nd year, with the sights and smells of fragrant flower displays filling the Quarry park.
Shrewsbury Flower Show returned to the town on Friday and Saturday.
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Although heavy rain showers on Friday made a dent in the attendance figures and caused headaches for the organisers who had to cancel equestrian events to protect the horses involved.
Those who came along on Saturday found more pleasant weather with the vast park busy throughout the day and visitors entertained with music from traditional military bands.
They had a pick of marquees to visit, with the main tent in the upper part of the Quarry housing elaborate displays, as well as trade stalls, food and the entertainment arena which hosted displays and performances throughout the day.
Among the visitors were families coming for the first time, and pensioners who have been visiting for decades, though none were around when the first Shrewsbury Flower Show was held in 1875.
Sandra Johnson, who lives in nearby Pontesbury, has been coming to the show for at least 30 years, and remembers first visiting with her grandmother as a child.
PICTURES: Saturday show highlights
She said she enjoyed taking in the elaborate flower displays as always, but lamented the weather which kept some people at home.
She said: "I try and get here every year. It has been quieter than normal in my opinion.
"But I think lots of people, the weather really won't make a difference. If you're going to come, you're going to come.
"I do feel sorry for them in a lot of ways because a lot of people put work into it.
"People put an awful lot into it. They all work very very hard.
"If you come for the day you do get really good value for it."
Sophie Melia, 35, visited for the day from Bridgend in south Wales with her fiancé Nigel Bungay, and took home a haul of flowers for their garden.
She said: "I come most years. My mum and dad were stewards here.
"It's been a bit quieter than normal. I know it's disappointing for the traders and everything, but I don't mind it being a bit quieter.
"All the traders have still been cheerful, it's still a really nice day out."
Meanwhile first-time visitors Stewart and Tessa Newell, from Hampshire, travelled to the show by train.
Mr Newell, 71, said: "I think it's absolutely super. I had never even heard of it before. It was from an advertisement for a train excursion.
"I think the main flower marquee was really excellent, and also the Dingle garden. I'm old enough to remember Percy Thrower."
Mrs Newell said: "We were very impressed with the river and all the surroundings."
Though Saturday's weather was a marked improvement on Friday's and the sun even made an appearance, the previous day's downpour did leave its mark on the parking for Saturday.
The grass area surrounding the Frankwell car park which had been designated as extra parking space was too sodden, and motorists who arrived on Saturday were told not to use it.
It meant Frankwell filled up by about 10am, but the alternative parking space at the West Mid Showground was well able to cope with the overspill.
Saturday's showjumping events and the United Pack Pony Club's ride in the Quarry's arena were cancelled in the interests of the horses' safety, though the Imps Motorcycle Display Team of youngsters still wowed spectators with their tricks despite the mud.
Amanda Jones of the organisers' marketing committee said: "I think we have had challenges due to the weather but we've got a team of professionals who were fully prepared and given the challenging circumstances, I think it's gone really well.
"The majority of comments have been really positive, people enjoy the diversity of the show."
GALLERY: Scouting for Girls provide the fireworks
Of Scouting for Girls, who fronted the entertainment on Saturday evening, she said: "I think it's pretty amazing.
"They've been quite high-profile in the media recently. I'm really happy we were able to bring them to the flower show."
She said that the show normally saw about 30,000 visitors across the two days, and that it was hard to say if this year's would meet that standard.
Celebrity chef John Torode, of Masterchef fame, gave several demonstrations on both Friday and Saturday, speaking about cooking for pleasure and making his own dishes as he spoke.
In between talks the Australian strolled around the Quarry taking in the horticultural displays.
He particularly enjoyed the unusual vegetables on show in one of the lower marquees, including parsnips that were several feet long and onions the size of footballs.
Mr Torode told the Shropshire Star: "I was here doing the show two years ago, and that's why I'm back – because I love it.
"And the great thing about it is that there's lots going on. It's not just horticulture, it's a proper agricultural show. There's food, there's fruit, there's veggies."
He said with his demonstrations, which were packed to the rafters, he wanted to encourage people to set aside time to go outside gardening, and improve their mental and physical wellbeing in the process.
"In our spare time we spend a lot of time sitting in front of a television. If we can steal a little bit of television time or iPad time and we go out in the garden, then I think we're bound to be a bit more active.
"It's the oldest show in the country. I would say get down there, put next year's dates in your diary."
One of the displays in the main marquee was the realisation of a dream for one gardener.
Lisa Waterson of Whixall quit her job in biotechnology in December to set up her own floral business.
She linked up with Gill Yuile in Wem and Sue Idiens from Woore, fellow horticulturalists, to create a joint display for this year's show.
Lisa said: "It's a big risk but I just thought I needed to go for it," she said.
"I have been doing it a couple of years small scale but I gave up my day job to focus on it. The display is called 'Living the Dream' because of that.
"It's a lot of work. We started setting up on Monday and we have been here every day since.
"The weather did put a lot of people off on Friday but it's made up for it."
Eszter Nemeth was manning the Dibleys Nursery & Garden stand.
She said: "Yesterday because of the weather forecast you felt it was a bit quiet. I guess people didn't dare to come.
"But it's been busy today. The fireworks on Friday were amazing."
The Tropikal Vizions provided steel drum music to welcome visitors into the Quarry throughout the day, and some flower fanatics couldn't stop themselves from dancing along.
Those who stayed to enjoy the evening's entertainment were treated to a spectacular firework display which closed the latest in a long, long line of Shrewsbury Flower Shows.