Competitive entries for next weekend’s Countryside Live are the second highest in the event’s 12-year history.
A total of 2,924 entries have been received and family ticket sales are up by 15 per cent, giving the Yorkshire Agricultural Society (YAS) high hopes for the latest instalment of what they bill as the ‘little sister of the Great Yorkshire Show’.
The two-day event on October 18-19 features classes for cattle, sheep, horses, poultry, pigeons and honey.
Show director, Bill Cowling, said: “The number of entries is a huge endorsement of Countryside Live by the farming and rural industry, with entries coming from as far north as Scotland and down to the south coast.
“And there will be quality as well as quantity as many of our winners go on to take top awards at other leading events, and I’m sure this year will be no exception.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to gain an insight into agriculture, as well as have a great day out.”
Visitors will be able to watch on as 172 cattle are presented before judges at Harrogate’s Great Yorkshire Showground, as well as a record 311 sheep and 331 equine entries. The honey section also has its best ever entry numbers, with 259 vying for prizes.
Nigel Pulling, chief executive of the YAS, said the show had grown in stature: “It is a particularly competitive cattle section which is regarded as a national competition. It is seen as the start of the fat stock showing season, so we’ve got a very high quality of entries from across the UK.
“And some of the horses come from a long way for this show. It’s seen as a prestigious autumn competition.”
He told of how the Society had decided to pitch the annual event at a family audience who would enjoy trade stands selling artisan products as well as finding out more about food production.
It is also an event that casts young horse riders into the limelight, with the ‘Search for a Talented Showjumper’ now a staple event each year. Former Olympians Tina and Graham Fletcher will run the rule over young equestrians during the two days in the main ring.
Mr Pulling said: “The Talented Showjumper contest is very much about encouraging young people who are thinking about taking showjumping seriously and giving them ring time that they might not normally have. The indoor arena attracts a big crowd and it gives competitors an opportunity to go to the next stage of their development.”
Other equine highlights are the Mountain and Moorland Ridden Championships and the Northern Show Cross finals. The latter involves an inter-team relay competition for the first time.
Janice Mewse, the competition’s joint organiser, said: “For the first time the top 60 juniors and top 60 seniors will compete in the showground’s main ring. The inter team relay idea has proved more popular than we ever imagined, and we now have a waiting list.”
Elsewhere, there will be pony rides, dog agility demonstrations, mountain biking, farrier competitions, tug of war contests and have-a-go archery, as well as fruit and vegetable classes organised by the Knaresborough Horticultural Society.
High time for farming talks
An important element of the weekend will be live debates, organised by the Future Farmers of Yorkshire, which will focus on the joys and challenges of working in the industry.
The speakers will be pig farmer Kate Morgan, dairy farmer Malcolm Fewster, potato buyer James Hopwood, vet Duncan Berkshire, agronomist Ian Pennock and environmental scientist Joe Turton.
The debate takes place at 12.30pm on Saturday, October 18 in the beef ring.
Countryside Live tickets are available in advance from www.countrysidelive.co.uk or on the gate. Parking is free. Doors open at 9am and the event closes at 5.30pm on both days.