Show is set for the return of the Great Yorkshire

Bill Cowling is stepping down after this year's show after ten year as honorary show director.

Bill Cowling is stepping down after this year's show after ten year as honorary show director.

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THE UMBRELLAS may have been needed as the scorching weather fizzled out this week but there has been no disruption at the Great Yorkshire Showground, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society said, as it prepares to host the country’s “premier” agricultural showcase.

With the 157th incarnation of the popular three-day event in Harrogate starting this Tuesday, Country Week caught up with the Society’s Bill Cowling, for a look ahead at what will be his final show as honorary show director.

Speaking on Wednesday afternoon, he said the showground was looking the part and he was hopeful of good weather conditions.

“It’s looking like a show now. There are a lot of trade stands going up that are very busy and the livestock will start arriving at the weekend.

“The forecasts we’re getting here aren’t bad; and not as hot as it has been thank goodness, so we’re reasonably confident on the weather. This drop of rain we’ve had means the showground has ‘greened up’. We’ve not had any disruption over the last couple of days.”

On how he was feeling ahead of his last show in the top job after ten years, he said: “I feel very privileged to have been asked to do it for as long as I have. It’s been a great honour.

“There’s a twinge of sadness to giving up something like this, and getting to meet so many interesting people, and the event is enjoyable as it should be, but I set out to do it for five years and I did it for ten and the show is still a good show.”

The Yorkshire Agricultural Society has been buoyed by another strong response by exhibitors. The show will feature around 1,200 trade stands and a number of competition classes have attracted record entries, including in the sheep and pig pens.

Mr Cowling said: “We’ve got a very strong agricultural section with sheep, cattle, pigs and goats all recording really good entries which creates a great basis for the show.”

Visitors will be spoilt for choice, he said.

“In the main ring we have the Shetland Pony Grand National each day which sees the kids riding over jumps, and something a lot of people haven’t seen is The Forge (a purpose-built venue for farriery contests), the setting for a great rural craft that’s seen a resurgence over the last 20 years with the increased interest in horses. It’s considered the best venue of its type in the UK and, we’ve been told, in Europe. We have great entries and it’s worth a visit.

“We also have a wonderful fashion show and elements of the show that aren’t mainstream agriculture, so I think we’re in for a special show - and with royal visitors too.”

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will be attending on the Tuesday, having previously visited together in 2006 and 2011.

The show attracted its record number of visitors in 2006 - 135,111 people over the three days - and while it remains to be seen if that figure will be bettered this year, Mr Cowling said early indications were that ticket sales had been strong.

“We have no reason not to be confident of having another hugely successful Great Yorkshire Show,” he said.

Farmer of the Year Award 2015

On the Tuesday of the show, The Yorkshire Post will be presenting its inaugural Farmer of the Year Award to a farmer who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to reconnect the public with British food.

Six finalists are in the running for the award: Eddie Andrew of Sheffield, Rebecca Burniston of Ripon, Tamara Hall of Beverley, Gordon Hawcroft of Holme on Spalding Moor, Angela Kirkwood of Withernsea and Peter Richardson of Newby Wiske.

The winner will be revealed at a public award ceremony which will take place on the President’s Lawn at 2.30pm.

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