Organisers have branded this year’s South of England show a “huge success” after 71,000 people flocked to the three-day event.

Punters enjoyed everything from top-level show jumping to pig agility on the final day on Saturday as the sun blessed the Ardingly showground after a wet start.

Organisers said the packed programme coupled with the favourable weather had attracted 3,000 more visitors than last year’s event.

Jane Thomas, 43, who travelled from Reigate in Surrey with her family, said: “It is our first time here and it is a wonderful day out.

“There is so much to do, especially for the kids. They don’t get to see this kind of thing normally so it is a real treat.

“All the farmers are wonderful and let the youngsters pat the animals and talk to them. We will be coming again next year.”

As always the main ring was the focal point with a number of competitions and demonstrations taking place.

The crowds were four deep for the conclusion of the show jumping, while the hunt demonstration also proved popular.

Lord Egremont, who owns Petworth House, was the guest of honour to meet the hunt, which paraded with half a dozen horses and about 100 dogs.

While the world’s best were at Epsom for the Derby on Saturday, the champion jockeys of tomorrow competed in the Shetland Pony Grand National in the main ring.

The main ring also saw a livestock parade, heavy working horses demonstration and a motorcycle display team.

There was plenty away from the main arena, with cattle, pygmy goat and sheep judging, pig agility and bird of prey demonstrations.

The food hall, which always proves popular, was filled with the local producers and cafes, from across the region.

Pauline Paterson, 61, from Haywards Heath, has been attending the show for as long as she can remember.

She said: “It has changed a lot over the years but I always look forward to it.

“It highlights all the fantastic work which is done in the countryside and all the beautiful animals we have.

“It is also nice to see so many young people here. It is important they have an appreciation of the countryside. There is plenty for them to do and always lots of smiles.”

Iain Nicol, chief executive of the South of England Agricultural Society, which organises the event, described this year’s event as a “huge success”.

He added: “I want to thank the 2,000-plus volunteers who make this event possible for all their hard work and for the enormous effort from all those involved, who make this such a special show.”