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It's summer show time
11:52am Wednesday 4th July 2012 in Features
For many, summer means one thing; the annual round of country shows. MATT CLARK takes a look at what’s on offer.
WE’RE spoilt for choice when it comes to most things in North Yorkshire, and that’s especially true with agricultural shows.
King of them all is the Great Yorkshire Show (GYS); the nation’s premier agricultural event and next week there will be three days of everything from cattle rings to Ukrainian horsemen.
Founded in 1837, the Great Yorkshire Show attracts more than 125,000 visitors a year and is by far the county’s biggest.
Lady Emma Ingilby of Ripley Castle acts as press steward extraordinaire for the show and says it’s undoubtedly the best in the country.
“There is a lovely atmosphere and while it’s changed in some ways, the essence hasn’t at all.”
But for farmers, change is vital if they are to survive and Lady Ingilby says the show’s reason for being is still first and foremost to represent the industry.
“Farms have had to diversify over the last few years and in the same way the show reflects that by including exhibits based around what else could you do.”
But these days many visitors have never seen a cow or pig close up and the show aims to inform and educate, but without being condescending.
Which is something Lady Ingilby played a key role in developing.
“I did a marketing report for the society about 20 years ago and at the time I said we’re assuming everyone who goes will be farmers. Now that has been taken on board and the show is aimed at all.”
One example is the commentators. They may be light hearted but they are also saying something about the breeds.
“You don’t want your audience to feel lectured at or hectored, you want them to have the sudden realisation of ‘I didn’t know that,’ which I think is the real trick.”
Size isn’t everything. Ryedale Show was voted the best one-day show in Yorkshire by readers of Farmers Guardian and you can understand why.
Set within a natural amphitheatre in the beautiful Welburn Park near Kirkbymoorside, the Ryedale Show was established in 1855 and remains very much a traditional country event.
But it also caters for townies, with attractions for everyone of all ages; not to mention tempting retail therapy at 200 quality trade stands, many having exhibited each year for at least a decade.
Stall holders say it is like a family meeting and that’s what makes the Ryedale Show atmosphere unique, warm and friendly.
Perhaps the biggest rival to the Great Yorkshire is The Malton Show, now entering its 126th year, which will be held in Scampston Park.
Since its early days as a farming get together, Malton has branched out to become a real family event and alongside the traditional attractions will be canine wizards from the Cheshire Dog Display Team and falconry on horseback.
Back for 2012 will be the perennial favourite Punch and Judy Show, not to mention magic from the Mingling Magician.
The first Stokesley Show was held in 1859 and has been without a break, with the exception of the two great wars when smaller Red Cross fund raising events took place.
Until 1967 the show was held on the third Thursday of September. Since then it has moved to the Saturday following the third Thursday in September.
While the 123rd Egton Show may be small compared to the likes of Harrogate, Malton and Ryedale, the band of volunteer helpers has made it one of the largest village shows in the country.
This year there will be a wrought iron and farrier display, a farmers market, plus all the usual horse, cattle, sheep, goat, ferret, fur and feather classes.
There will also be the bee keeping, produce and handicraft and the children’s sections.
Our most intimate shows can be found high on the Moors. Rosedale and District hold theirs at the Milburn Arms Field, Rosedale Abbey and equally picturesque is Farndale, perhaps more famous for its daffodils.
Farndale Show is held on August Bank Holiday Monday at Church Houses in Farndale and 2012 will be the 105th annual show. It will feature attractions for everyone of all ages including show jumping and falconry displays down to photography and cake competitions.
As with most country shows you will find cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, fur and feather and plenty of entertainment. But unlike most, trade stands are very few and far between.
One of the most picturesque settings is Thornton-le-Dale, the England of cream teas and thatched cottages and the August show takes full advantage of its perfect setting in the centre of the village with a full range of animals, produce and stalls.
Not content with helping out at the country’s premier agricultural event, Lady Ingilby also has one of her own to run as well; the Ripley Show; a far more intimate affair.
But knowing everyone can have its drawbacks.
“I have an interesting job at the Great Yorkshire show and the devil of a job here because we get to judge the mounted fancy dress, which as anyone will tell you is the poison chalice of any show.”
And of course disappointed runners-up are best avoided.
“As my husband Thomas says, we leave the show shortly afterwards for a couple of hours and beat a hasty retreat to the members tent.”
Around the shows this summer
• Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate: July 10-12
• Malton Show: July 22
• Ryedale Show: July 31
• Thornton-le-Dale Show: August 8
• Rosedale and District Show: August 18
• Ripley Agricultural Show: August 12
• Egton Show: August 22
• Farndale Show: August 27
• Stokesley Show: September 22
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