Young farmers stole the limelight at the 36th North Yorkshire County Show, claiming some of the prized top spots in the livestock competitions.
Sixteen-year-old Melissa Donaldson presented the best beef cow and Steven Kirby, 19, won the supreme sheep title yesterday in the grounds of Otterington Hall.
Miss Donaldson, of Thrintoft near Northallerton, displayed last year’s beef winner, a four-year-old British Blonde called Hilltop Flora and again came away with the champion rosette.
“It’s a great achievement to do it two years in a row at our local show,” Miss Donaldson said. “She will be going to the Great Yorkshire and the Royal Welsh Show next so this gives us great confidence.”
Top dairy cow was a homebred Holstein third calver named Littlebridge Pheasant 92, shown by 23-year-old Lizzie Miles of Littlebridge Farm, Ellerbeck. Over in the sheep pens, teenager Steven Kirkby, of Barstow Hall Farm, Ainderby Steeple, picked up the interbreed title with a Texel. It was the 19-year-old’s fourth year showing and his first interbreed success. As a sheep farmer, he is following in the footsteps of his father Andrew and grandfather Roy.
“I like coming to show off what I’m breeding myself and I can say every year the breed is getting better,” he said.
The county show boasts the largest poultry contest of any agricultural show in the country and entry numbers were high at around 850 birds. Judges selected a black oprington hen, displayed by P&T Jones as the show’s best poultry exhibit.
One of the judge’s Geoff Parker, whose own hobby of breeding poultry for showing has so far lasted a lifetime, said of the winning bird: “She is an absolutely excellent specimen of the breed and at this time of the year it is difficult to get females in good condition because they have been in the breeding pen so to have one as immaculate as this is really something.
“Breeding poultry is a fascinating hobby and gradually more and more people are keeping poultry in their backyard.”
A dancing diggers demonstration, meanwhile, by local firm J. Binks and Sons, whose international display team represent the Case tractor company, saw £500,000 worth of heavy machinery in the main ring before stunt motorcyclist Jez Avery took over. The Hurworth Hounds were also displayed.
The weather stayed fine and warm, despite being overcast. Earlier in the week, the organisers had become a little nervous with showers at the start of the week meaning a full day’s preparation was lost.
Show secretary Alan Andrew said: “The preparation has been a little slow this year down to the weather. Last Sunday was particularly bad and we were conscious that we have until the Tuesday evening to make a decision and we certainly didn’t want to cancel like we did in 2012.
“It’s been a manic rush to get everything together but I think the attendance numbers are higher than they were by this time (midday) last year - and as far as we’re aware, last year was our record year.”