Record number of visitors at top rural showcase

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A record number of visitors flocked to the two-day rural spectacular that was Countryside Live in Harrogate this weekend.

Attendance figures were up by a healthy five per cent on a year earlier, with 12,689 people passing through the gates of the Great Yorkshire Showground over the two days, much to the delight of the organisers at the Yorkshire Agricultural Society (YAS).

Countryside Live at the Great Yorkshire Showground

Countryside Live at the Great Yorkshire Showground

Honorary show director Bill Cowling said he was thrilled that attendance numbers had reached new heights in the show’s 11th year.

“This is an absolutely super figure,” Mr Cowling said.

“It underlines the value of Countryside Live to the farming and rural community and people really enjoy it.

“There’s been a real buzz all weekend and the visitors weather’s been kind too.

Countryside Live at the Great Yorkshire Showground

Countryside Live at the Great Yorkshire Showground

“I’m delighted by how it’s 
gone.”

Entry figures were strong across all competitive sections of the show, which included beef, sheep, equine, honey, pigeons, poultry and showjumping.

In total, some 2,828 entries were received for the 2013 event.

Mr Cowling said he had been impressed by the quality of the animals on show.

Countryside Live at the Great Yorkshire Showground

Countryside Live at the Great Yorkshire Showground

“We had a wonderful animal that won the Supreme Beef Championship, the sheep and horses were strong, and the farriers have put on an amazing competition,” he said.

“On the poultry side, a lot of poultry shows have been short on numbers this year but we have had a wonderful one.

“The show is growing year on year and we are delighted about it. I think it’s become a fixture of people’s diaries for the autumn and that’s very helpful because people set the time aside for it now.

“I hope our visitors have enjoyed their time with us.”

Countryside Live at the Great Yorkshire Showground

Countryside Live at the Great Yorkshire Showground

The society bills Countryside Live as the Great Yorkshire Show’s little sister. Spread over a smaller area of the vast showground than the summer showcase, it makes for a more compact arena and the less frantic pace of the show makes it popular among families with small children.

It was also a last chance this year for a large public gathering of members of the region’s farming community across different sectors to catch up as the show season ends.

This year’s event benefited from relatively mild weather. Early mist on Saturday morning cleared and while the sky was mostly overcast, it remained dry and the main outdoor avenue of trade stands grew busier as the first day wore on. Yesterday’s conditions were even better and visitor numbers were already swelling before midday.

Given the time of the year in which the show is held, one of its great advantages is that a large chunk of the action unfolds indoors – in two halls, the forge where the farriers compete and in several marquees adjacent to the main avenue outside.

In the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s tent visitors saw some of the stars of a sheep show; a selection of rare native breeds that are on the Trust’s watchlist. There was a pen of Manx Loaghtan sheep whose meat has gained popularity with some of London’s fine dining restaurants, and an array of other breeds for visitors to peruse such as Black Wensleydales, Badger Faced Welsh Mountains and Whitefaced Woodlands.

Children got up close to hatching chicks in the Farmyard and Story Barn and parents queued with their children for a ride on mini diggers.

Countryside Live at the Great Yorkshire Showground

Countryside Live at the Great Yorkshire Showground

There were plenty of attractions competing for attention with mountain biking, ferret racing, a birds of prey display, a tug of war contest and a demonstration of canine obedience, agility, tricks and musical sequences by the Tailwagger Display Team.

Inside the trade hall, artisan food producers sold their products, from pies and cupcakes, to toffee, olives and liqueurs.

The event capped off a fine agricultural show season aided by favourable weather. Planning for next year starts already, with the YAS now turning its attention to next July’s Great Yorkshire Show.