VISITORS poured through the gates as the annual Dorset County Show got under way in Dorchester today.

Thousands of people were expected at the two day extravaganza today and tomorrow on the Cokers Frome Showground on the edge of town.

For the first time in the show’s history it will host the National Vegetable Society Championships.

The showcase will bring together the best organic producers in mainland Great Britain.

The championships are billed as the best collection of vegetables anywhere in the world and exhibitors will be available to talk to during the day about their produce prowess.

Masterchef Mat Follas will be holding a ‘Love your Veg’ cooking display in the Local Food Tent at lunchtime today.

A completely different type of entertainment comes in the form of an 8ft robot called Titan.

Singing, dancing, telling jokes and riding around on a giant robot bike, Titan will be who will be roaming the showground both today and tomorrow.

Even bigger in scale will be the return of the monster trucks – 15 feet high and seven and a half tonnes in weight – at lunchtime today More natural entertainment is provided by a plethora of animals being judged or performing in front of animal lovers today and tomorrow.

Falconer Jonathon Marshall’s hawk experience will include hawks, eagles and falcons which promise to soar, glide and dive mere inches away from the audience.

People can get even closer to the beagles and foxhounds which star in the Festival of Hounds, where children will be given a chance to enter the ring and meet hard working hunting dogs.

A wide range of horses and ponies will also be present, with local team jumping, scurry racing and ridden hunters’ events.

Races are not just restricted to horses however, with ferrets and terrier dogs also enjoying a spot of high-speed competition.

To add more interest for punters you can place a bet on the ferret races and terrier-owning visitors can even enter their dog in the races.

Besides this there will be live music supplied by the New Forest Plonkers and the BB Hall Band, vintage cars and tractors on display, and many more attractions that the organisers will hope bring agriculture and rural life alive for visitors - young or old.

Tomorrow, visitors can expect more of the same, including a pony race against the clock and magnificent horses and carriages gracing the main ring before departing for a drive round Dorchester.

Both days will feature a line up of champions in the Grand Parade from that morning’s competitions.

*See Monday’s Echo for show pictures and an eight-page special on Tuesday with more pictures and results of competitions.