AS IT entered its second century at the start of a new era today, one of North Yorkshire’s most popular agricultural shows enjoyed fresh impetus that captured the imagination of visitors and its volunteers.
Held for the 101st time, Wensleydale Show welcomed an estimated 5,000 visitors to its Leyburn showground for a programme that featured booming sheep entries and a new champion of champions title for the best cattle presented at the show.
A rush of new blood on the organising committee had provided a boost after last year’s centenary, and the feel-good factor carried over into the start of the Bank Holiday weekend.
Against a backdrop of sunshine and showers, and a particularly sharp downpour mid-afternoon, the cream of local livestock, horticultural exhibits and horse riders competed for the prestigious rosettes, but there was a serious message too.
Masham-based animal feed and farm advisors Jameson displayed a banner on their trade stand that called for fair prices for British dairy farmers.
Sales manager David Lewis said: “We understand the situation our farmers are in. It costs 30 pence per litre to produce milk and they are getting 22 or 23 pence. All our dairy farmers are working at a loss at the moment. There is an in-balance between supermarkets and dairy farmers. We want consumers to do what they can to support British produce and help reward our dairy farmers for their hard work.”
In the show rings, this year’s new cattle championship, instigated by Peter Collins, consultant at the show’s main sponsor Lowes Financial Management, pitted the day’s champion dairy and beef animals against each other in the main ring for scrutiny by Leyburn Auction Mart auctioneer Stephen Walker.
Mr Walker had a tough call to make triumph but after careful deliberation chose as his champion of champions, the best beef animal, a bull called Hawk bred by B&R Lawson and Son of Whashton, Richmond and shown by Leyburn farmer’s son Luke Wilkinson, 14, on behalf of his father James.
The British Blue beast was earlier in the season named reserve breed champion bull at the Great Yorkshire Show.
The Wilkinsons also took the reserve beef champion title with a 15-month-old cow called Millie shown by Mr Wilkinson’s daughter Beth, 16.
The reserve champion of champions was dairy winner Kidstones Lady Laura 8th, a six-calver pedigree Shorthorn paraded by Alex Wilkes, also of Leyburn. It too had prior form having taken the supreme dairy title at Bakewell Show at the start of August.
There was joy in the sheep section for show chairman Bob Dixon, whose brother John, of Stainton was the overall reserve sheep champion with his Swaledale. He was beaten only by Paul and Granville Fairburn whose Blue Faced Leicester was named champion sheep.
Mr Dixon, the chairman, has been on the show committee for 35 years and said he was delighted with the health of the show.
“We’ve had more members join the organising committee this year, some younger blood, and we are trying to encourage more to join us. The show is certainly in good health. Numbers are up in the sheep classes where we have had 600 entries, and there are 197 cattle and 300 horses.”
The regional branch of the Zwartbles Sheep Association held their Northern Area Championship at the show, attracting around 90 entries of the Dutch-origin breed alone. The competition was won by Susan Gilbert of Mickleton near Barnard Castle with a ewe lamb named Beech Hay Coral Cove.
Wensleydale is the local show of farmer-cum-tourism chief Gary Verity who took second place in the butchers lamb class.
Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Mr Verity, who runs a flock of sheep nearby, has been showing at Wensleydale since 1993.
On the show’s enduring popularity, he said: “It’s a really good authentic country show. People come from all over and plan their holidays to the Dales to take in these big agricultural shows.”