COMPETITORS, spectators and visitors are preparing for the North-East’s premiere agricultural event at Bywell, near Stocksfield, this Bank Holiday Monday.

Thousands of visitors will be heading for the district as the team behind the popular event put the finishing touches to huge rows of marquees, event rings and animal pens which hold the key to making the day such a success.

There will be rapturous applause as the thrilling Atkinson’s Action Horses, a world class team of stunt riders and their highly trained steeds, promise high speed equestrian excitement in the main arena.

The display team feature in several popular films and are regulars on TV’s Poldark, Victoria and Peaky Blinders.

In a dazzling display of daredevil tricks, bareback stunts, agility and bravery, visitors can enjoy getting close up to some real stars of film and television.

Continuing the equestrian theme, carriage driving is coming to this year’s show, providing an elegant and exhilarating display under the watchful eye of Patti Atkinson, the national director of British Carriage Driving, who has devoted the last 20 years to promoting the sport.

“The Northumberland County Show is an amazing venue,” she said.

“It provides us with a showcase to launch the upcoming Bywell Regional Driving Trials, which will be held over the August 24 to 26 Bank Holiday weekend.

“This is the first event of its kind in the North-East for 10 years, and includes dressage and cones and a high speed marathon event through obstacles.

“It is really good fun to watch, and what other sport allows a 12-year-old to compete against an 80-year-old, and able-bodied against people with disabilities?”

Competitive classes for cattle, sheep, horses and other livestock are one of the main draws for farmers and breeders from across the country.

The sheep section, in particular, has grown again this year, thanks to the success of the rare breed and British native breed sections, which have been introduced in recent years. Rachel Raine, chief steward of the sheep section, said: “Despite the appalling weather for this year’s lambing, we are really pleased by the high number of entries.

“It shows how sheep farmers are determined to put their best foot forward no matter what nature throws at them!”

Elsewhere, a fun fair, Cumberland wrestling, sheep shearing, rabbits and guinea pigs, have-a-go dog agility, a gun dog scurry, tug of war and birds of prey make sure there’s something for all the family.