PREPARATIONS for this weekend’s Aldershot Army Show are going to plan, Aldershot’s garrison commander confirmed on Monday.

This is despite the absence of two-thirds of army personnel who are still in the Gulf, and adverse weather earlier in the week.

Col Stephen Oxlade said the drainage system on the playing fields by Queen’s Avenue where the show is to be held has been repaired and the ground, which regularly floods, has been drained in readiness for the thousands of visitors expected.

The event, previously held at Rushmoor Arena, has been moved this year to Queen’s Avenue, which is thought by the army to be a more visible venue.

Col Oxlade said: “The purpose of the move is to strengthen the army’s links with the local community and to bring the event back to the centre of Aldershot, which is traditionally known as the home of the British Army.

“It has taken 90 people between six and nine months to get everything organised for the show to go ahead. The only thing left is to pray that we get good weather.”

The show will start at 8.30am tomorrow (Saturday) and run through to bank holiday Monday, which is likely to attract the biggest turnout when between 20,000 and 30,000 people are expected to turn up.

The main displays and events will be reserved for Monday but there will be plenty to see on Saturday and Sunday, with show jumping, a funfair, a trade and craft fair and, on Sunday, the Rushmoor Youth Band contest.

Phil Stoneman, Rushmoor’s principal leisure officer, said: “There will be lots to see and do all weekend but for families the main day will be Monday, when there will also be vintage buses making a circuit of the event which people can hop on and off for free.

“It costs nothing to get into the event although there will be a charge for some of the activities like the mini hovercraft rides.

“There is something for everyone including a large petting zoo with farm animals for young children, and a state of the art ski slope and quad bikes for adults.”

The army will also be hosting a recruitment tent where budding soldiers can try their hand at different skills and talk to a representative of the local regiments.

For those travelling to or around the event, Queen’s Avenue will be closed for the whole bank holiday weekend between Prince’s Avenue and Hammersley Road, and the inside lane of the A325 going from Farnborough to Aldershot will be coned off to direct visitors by car into the event.