A GLUT of newcomers caused a spike in livestock entries at the 37th North Yorkshire County Show, making this year’s event a standout success.
It was a trend that led to a surprise in the sheep pens, where the champion sheep of all the breeds at the show was awarded to a first time entrant.
Neil Noble, a shepherd for over 20 years at Judy and David Bridge’s farm in Guisborough, runs a commercial flock as his day job but it was his hobby as a keeper of Beltex sheep that paid off at today’s show.
His February born lamb, shown by his wife Jane, was named the sheep interbreed champion on his first time as an exhibitor at the show.
“It’s absolutely amazing to win,” Mr Noble said. “I’ve been as a visitor to the show for the last few years and thought this year I would come showing because it’s local to us. It’s a chance for us to put the breed out there - a lot of people don’t work with Beltex because they don’t think they are big enough.
“Because I work with commercial ewes, I wanted to run something myself that would focus on bringing on good quality fat lambs. I like them because they have a personality all of their own.
“It was a big surprise to win because I don’t think lambs often win interbreed competitions, but he is everything a Beltex should be, with a nice wide body.”
Judges had their work cut out to choose the winners in the sheep classes, with 593 sheep featuring in the show, up from 486 last year.
Alan Andrew, show secretary, said: “Some of the regular sheep exhibitors have gone off to the Royal Highland Show (in Scotland) today which normally takes place a week before our show, but entries have been boosted by a lot of exhibitors who have never been before.”
Cattle entries were also up, by 50 or so, Mr Andrew said.
The overall beef championship was won Mark Harryman and Sarah Warriner of Pickering, who decided not to show their sheep this year so they could concentrate on their chances in the cattle section.
It was their 18-month-old Limousin heifer, bred by Kevin Sparke of Hexham out of a bull called Keskadale Eyeful, that impressed the judges most.
Ms Warriner said: “It’s a dream to win. The hard work has paid off.”
Last year’s champions Adrian and Penny Johnson took the overall beef reserve champion rosette to add to a first place win in the Aberdeen Angus class and coming second in the interbreed beef pairs.
It was an exceptional day of success in the dairy show ring for 24-year-old Lizzie Miles of Ellerbeck, who stormed to victory in the interbreed dairy championship for a second year running with a cow called Littlebridge Shottle Honey 2 - a special animal having been her fiancé Edward James’ ‘wingman’ when he proposed to her in the farmyard.
Miss Miles, who also won the champion dairy calf and champion dairy handler classes, said: “It’s a great advertisement for the herd and its genetics. The showing is a hobby and dairying my job so today is a bonus.”
The show was also a chance for local youngsters to cut their teeth on the show circuit and nine-year-old Morgan Thompson of Manor House Farm, Danby Wiske, who has been training for the show every night after school for three weeks, won the dairy young handler class with her Holstein cow.
Among the youngest competitors across the event was three-year-old Jovi Wood of Stokesley who raised smiles around the ring in the sheep young handlers class.
The show at Otterington Hall, between Thirsk and Northallerton, hosts the largest one-day, outdoor poultry contest of any agricultural show in the country. This year it attracted 860 bird entries and more than 300 egg exhibits. The best in show winner was Gordon Walker from Northern Ireland with a German Lankshan female bantam.
Mr Andrew said it had been another fine show as the event continues to recover from the washout in 2012 which left the show committee on the verge of bankruptcy.
“We are amazed at the turn out and it just goes to show if you put something decent on in the rings, people will come.”
Entertainment in the main ring included performances by the Inch Perfect motorcycle display team and the equine specialists, the Stampede Stunt Company.