Thousands flock to Chatsworth Country Fair - VIDEO & MORE PICTURES

THE last day in August might seem like an odd time to celebrate the arrival of the British summer - but the Duke of Devonshire captured the spirit of the season as he welcomed visitors to Chatsworth Country Fair, writes Molly Lynch.

VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our video report.

Chatsworth Show 2012: Thousands turn out for annual country fair.

Chatsworth Show 2012: Thousands turn out for annual country fair.

Thousands of people flocked to the first of three days of fun, food and agricultural delights in the vast grounds of the stately home yesterday (Friday, August 31, 2012).

And apart from a slightly soggy ground, the downpours which have marred the months of June, July and August were kept at bay as the sun smiled down on revellers.

Families from across the UK, including thousands from South Yorkshire, turned out in force to enjoy the wealth of attractions on offer - from tents filled with crafts and mouth-watering local produce to fairground rides, mounted games and dog agility competitions keeping youngsters entertained.

Away from the hustle and bustle, an array of 125 vintage cars and commercial vehicles were displayed proudly in front of the breathtaking Chatsworth House.

Chatsworth Show 2012 -

Chatsworth Show 2012 -

At midday, fair-goers gathered around the main arena for the official opening ceremony.

“Welcome, at last, to the wonderful British summer,” declared the Duke.

Crowds stood with craned necks, united in gasps of amazement, as the Tigers Freefall Team took to the skies.

But the 2012 Olympics had almost prevented the spectacle from going ahead.

Chatsworth Show 2012 - David Travis, 70, on a Segway

Chatsworth Show 2012 - David Travis, 70, on a Segway

Fair organiser Christopher Lloyd-Owen said: “Three men jumped from the plane instead of six because of G4S. The other three boys have been tasked with security boys at the Paralympics. Earlier this summer they told me none of the team could make it.”

The event is expected to attract around 80,000 during its three-day run, with the British Red Arrows appearing today and tomorrow.

Paula Fox, 57, from Worksop, and her daughter Nicola, 32, from Doncaster, are regular visitors to the fair - a tradition they are continuing with Nicola’s sons Charlie, four, and one-year-old Harry.

Paula said: “We come every year. I’ve been coming for a very long time and I’m so happy to be able to bring my grandchildren. Chatsworth is a beautiful setting and there is so much to see and do.”

Chatsworth Show 2012 -

Chatsworth Show 2012 -

There were newcomers along with seasoned fair-goers in the form of sisters Margaret Eldridge, 63, and Pamela Jervis, 67, from Chesterfield.

Margaret said: “I’ve moved to the area from Gloucestershire and wanted to see what was going on locally. We said we’d come on Friday because we thought it would be quiet - we can’t get over how busy it is.

“I think it’s brilliant, there is so much to do. We’ve been here since this morning and I still don’t feel like we’ve even touched the whole thing.”

Chatsworth Show 2012 -

Chatsworth Show 2012 -

Chatsworth Show 2012 - The Duchess of Devonshire with a member of the King's Troop Royal Artillery

Chatsworth Show 2012 - The Duchess of Devonshire with a member of the King's Troop Royal Artillery

Chatsworth Show 2012 - The Yorkshire team participating in the mounted games

Chatsworth Show 2012 - The Yorkshire team participating in the mounted games

Chatsworth Show 2012 -A lady takes her ferret for a walk

Chatsworth Show 2012 -A lady takes her ferret for a walk

Chatsworth Show 2012 -A lady takes her ferret for a walk

Chatsworth Show 2012 -A lady takes her ferret for a walk

Chatsworth Show 2012 - Spectators around the main ring in front of the house

Chatsworth Show 2012 - Spectators around the main ring in front of the house