The Royal New Zealand Show is set to get under way on Wednesday with one of its biggest opening-day crowds, but missing one of its most enduring features.

Hawke's Bay A and P Society president Simon Collin, on Tuesday at the Hawke's Bay Showgrounds Tomoana on the outskirts of Hastings unloading his own 15 charolais cattle-section entries, said up to 3000 children are expected on a fleet of buses on the traditional schools days.

But missing will be the simmental cattle of Central Hawke's Bay studmaster and multiple Meat and Wool cups winner Tony Thompson, who has retired from showing.

Thompson and his Glenanthony breed have been a feature of the Hawke's Bay show for 40 years, in some recent years propping-up the cattle section of the show, and some other shows in the lower North Island.

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But amid the mycoplasma bovis alert, which caused cancellation of dairy sections across much of the A and P Show circuit last year, the Hawke's Bay show is bouncing back with eight cattle breeds entered, from as far afield as Wellsford, north of Auckland.

Their goal is the Meat and Wool Cup to be presented on Thursday afternoon, but Collin says the show has many features before and afterwards.

Highlights of the first day will be a powhiri involving tangata whenua from nearby Waipatu Marae, the BRW Agri-women's luncheon starting at midday with guest speaker and Dannevirke-based business Hall of Fame inductee Mavis Mullins, and the evening Women in Wool Farmstrong fundraiser in the showgrounds' shearing pavilion, featuring a group of women who have learnt to shear over the last year.

Attractions for the hordes of school pupils include the opening Fonterra Breakfast, a secondary schools design, make and model parade, and sheep racing.

The A and P society is forecasting attendances totalling over 30,000 over the three days, with some of the traditional show-week wind as it heads toward the culmination of the public holiday Show Day on Friday.