Feel-good factor lingers on after Tour de France

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PROOF THAT pride in God’s own county is at its peak was evident as the 156th Great Yorkshire Show got underway.

Any fears that the days following the Grand Depart would be something of an anti-climax were allayed as the three-day event, Britain’s biggest agricultural show, welcomed thousands of visitors on its first day.

The crowds outside the Food Hall at the Great Yorkshire Show.

The crowds outside the Food Hall at the Great Yorkshire Show.

After the cycle race put the region on the map, the sights, sounds and smells of the show reminded people of what makes it so unique.

Slices of country life - including showcases of the best cattle and sheep in the country - captivated youngsters and adults alike. Meanwhile, the food section proved a huge pull, offering the finest local produce.

Since the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had enjoyed a celebration of all things Yorkshire during their Tour visit last weekend, it was the job of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society to give the Countess of Wessex her very own insight.

A large crowd had gathered at Harrogate’s showground for the when the royal entourage arrived early in the morning. Looking demure in a crimson blazer, pencil skirt and snakeskin wedges, the Countess brought a touch of glamour to the heart of agricultural England.

First to greet the Countess was four-year-old local lad Joseph Duncan. The Queen’s daughter-in-law, wife of Prince Edward, asked the youngster what he planned to do with his day.

Joseph replied: “I’m here to see lots of animals - and the hot tubs.”

Following his royal encounter, Joseph, who was there with grandma Melissa Ramsay, also from Harrogate, described the Countess as the ‘best lady ever’.

Showing off her country credentials, the royal guest of honour bravely held a bird of prey on her arm and got up close to gundogs. As she doted on a chocolate and white springer Spaniel, owner Les Dixon, of Northallerton’s Mountgrace Gundogs, revealed they shared more than a fondness for one another.

He said: “The dog’s name is Sophie, I forgot I’d called her that! I think the other Sophie took it as a compliment.”

Dressed in a red crimson blazer and pencil skirt, the Countess even navigated her way through cattle parade rings to chat to entrants wearing a paid of high-heeled snakeskin wedges.

She also sampled some local produce at the food chain stand of the Discovery Centre, designed to encourage people to think about where their meat comes from. Tasting pork from Tancred Farm Shop in Wixley, she gave a hearty endorsement of their work.

Sam Blacker, a retired farm shop owner from Green Hammerton, said: “Sophie said she enjoys going in to her local butcher’s shop and asking about the meat, it’s good she understands our message.”

The feel-good factor was alive and kicking, despite thundery showers late in the afternoon.

Mother-of-two Jennie Riley brought her mother Gill Dawson and sons Harrison, five, and three-year-old Lewis from their home in Leeds.

Jennie said: “It’s our first time here. There’s just so much to do we’re almost spoiled for choice.

“After the Tour it feels like such a good time to be in Yorkshire.”