Best beasts in the land

Cattle Parade in the main ring at the Great Yorkshire Show
Cattle Parade in the main ring at the Great Yorkshire Show
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For decades visitors to the Great Yorkshire Show have enjoyed artisan food, heart-stopping entertainment in the Main Ring and a host of Royal visitors.

However if there has been one consistent draw to the summer farming showcase since it began in the 1830s, it is the livestock exhibitions.

Since its inception the Great Yorkshire Show has always been a farming showcase and has justifiably garnered a reputation in recent years of attracting some of finest livestock in the country.

More than 4,000 cattle, sheep and pigs from the four corners of the country will converge on Harrogate for the event as their owners hope to impress the judges.

And of course this year’s Great Yorkshire Show will be no different.

The Great Yorkshire Show is home to the British Pig Association’s Pig of the Year final and every year the final of the Supreme Cattle championship garners huge crowds around the ring.

Many of the animals participating will be prize winners already, but an award from England’s premier agricultural is among the most coveted rosettes in the livestock community.

While visitors do not begin filing through the gates until the Tuesday, owners of the livestock will begin arriving well in advance, setting up their animals in the historic cattle sheds which have stood on the showground for so many years.

Early on Tuesday morning these owners will begin the hard work that started months ago, putting the finishing touches to their animals as part of their final preparations.

It is not uncommon to see curling tongs, styling wands and hairspray being put to use in the livestock pens.

The cattle judging will come to an end at 4pm on the Tuesday when the Supreme Beef Champion animal will be named in the main Beef Ring.

The BPA Pig of the Year final and the Supreme Sheep Final both take place in the Pig and Sheep Rings on the Wednesday morning before the famed Blythewood Beef Pairs Competition is judged in the Beef Ring in the Main Ring.

In the afternoon of the Wednesday it is the turn of the dairy classes, with the Supreme Champion being determined in the Dairy Ring at around 3pm.

All of the cattle champions will get their big moment however when they are proudly marched around the Main Ring in the Cattle Parade by their owners.

However perhaps the most important classes come in the Young Handler category. Here we see young men and women, sometimes just a few years old, showing off their handling skills in front of the gathered crowd, providing a heartening reminder that the next generation of farmers is coming through literally to take the reins and keep alive the proud traditions that have been seen in Yorkshire’s agricultural community for so long.

A spokeswoman for the Great Yorkshire Show added: “We appreciate the support given by all our sponsors but in particular to ASDA, as sponsors of the cattle judging rings, Marks & Spencer, sponsors of the sheep section and Morrisons who are sponsoring the pigs.”