It was three days of old-fashioned family fun that showed off the best of the Portsmouth area.
Whether you were eight or 80, there was something to capture your imagination and raise a smile at The Southsea Show.
Thousands flocked to the annual event on Southsea Common, where there was a party atmosphere yesterday as scores of people donned fancy dress for a carnival procession.
The common was transformed into a land of fun, with activities for the children including tightrope walking, scuba-diving, and tennis classes, and lots of laughs at the Punch and Judy stall.
Chelsey Taylor, 22, from Paulsgrove, brought along her son Logan Rees to enjoy the children’s show in the Big Top.
‘I used to come with my grandad when I was younger,’ she said.
‘Now I wanted to bring Logan along. It’s something for the children and there’s always lots going on.
‘I love the shows and there’s always something different.’
There was a touch of sparkly Disney magic in one tent as children were given the royal treatment.
Manic Stage Productions, based in Southsea, pulled out all the stops to create an icy kingdom inspired by the hit film Frozen, with children able to sit on the throne alongside actresses dressed up as Anna and Elsa.
Lily Denham, nine, from Copnor, enjoyed the experience. Her mum, Hannah Denham, 30, said: ‘It’s been brilliant. The girls here are amazing. Elsa can really sing! This is brilliant for Portsmouth and it brings people in.’
An impressive line-up of classic and vintage cars attracted many browsers during the weekend.
Elsewhere, there were dozens of stalls for people to find out about local organisations, including Portsmouth RNLI, the army, The King’s Theatre and Pompey in the Community, which had a bus on the common.
Donna A’Hern, 16, from Paulsgrove, was volunteering at the bus.
She said: ‘I have really enjoyed it – I’ve actually never been before, but I like the atmosphere and there’s a lot of things to do.
‘I’m going to come next year. I like it when there’s loads of music – I’m really into that.’
And it wasn’t only people having fun. There were plenty of animals down on the common, whether it was in the petting tent or the dog assault course.
Portsmouth Fanciers brought along around 30 guinea pigs, 30 rabbits and 30 chickens for people to see, while those of less squeamish dispositions got the chance to get up close to reptiles.
Sue Plowman, from Fareham, a member of Portsmouth Fanciers, said: ‘Having been at the show when it was here before, it needs a few tweaks but on the whole, it’s been quite successful.
‘It gets the community together in one place.
‘The show had been going for many years and then they decided it wasn’t viable.
‘It’s nice to have it back and be part of it again.’
As well as entertainment, there were stalls that were a little more philosophical in their approach.
To mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in June and the centenary of the First World War, people were asked to describe what a ‘veteran’ meant to them in one word.
All the responses, together with photographs of participants of their answers, were shown at a pop-up exhibition.
‘Legend’ and ‘hero’ were common responses.
Steve Bomford, from Southsea-based Company of Makers, which organised the exhibit, said: ‘The idea is to get military communities and civilian communities to talk to one another and understand the challenges facing military communities.’
Cara Fawcett, 15, from Southsea, certainly had a varied day, as she spent the morning performing with Victory-Land Theatre School, followed by a Royal Armouries’ tutorial in one of the tents on how to load a cannon.
‘I thought it was interesting,’ she said.
‘It’s been fun.’
Her mum Nicky Fawcett enjoyed mingling around the stalls to find out what was going on. It’s wonderful to bring everyone together,’ she said. ‘It’s lovely that the show is back.’
Andy Grays, chief executive of Portsmouth Cultural Trust, one of the organisers of the show, reckoned at least 6,000 people had enjoyed the comedy festival over the weekend, with Eddie Izzard’s performances at the Southsea Comedy Festival – which ran in conjunction with the show – one of the highlights.
‘It absolutely went down a storm,’ he said. ‘People really enjoyed themselves and I think the whole set-up impressed people.
‘We’ve had such positive comments from people and the comedians themselves were delighted with it.
‘They are already talking about what they might want to do next year.’