THOUSANDS of schoolchildren will be among the first to descend on the Newcastle Show Friday, with organisers promising more than just rides, showbags and competitions.
Newcastle Show Society president Roger Geary said the event was shaping as "the biggest show I can remember".
"There's more caravans on Richardson Park today than there were at the Caravan and Camping Show," Mr Geary said.
For the second straight year, the show won't open with a Friday public holiday.
But after a drop in attendances in 2012, organisers have encouraged local schools to get on board with a host of educational activities.
Mr Geary said 11 high schools and 14 primary schools were sending students to the show today, and that more applications were expected.
The "skills on show" displays will give the older students a chance to find out about career opportunities in the trades, manufacturing and mining sectors.
Mr Geary said the 2013 show would have some unique features, including chicken hatchings and competitions for rats and mice.
The chosen theme is "celebrating our cultural diversity" and the show will have a distinct international flavour.
A special stage will have multicultural entertainment, alongside rows and rows of food stalls to meet every taste.
The show runs until Sunday.