North Yorkshire is set for a takeover of all things wool this weekend, with two events that celebrate the important role of sheep to the countryside’s economy and way of life.
While the Yarndale festival at Skipton Auction Mart focuses on the crafts derived from sheep fleeces, the living and breathing animals themselves will be at the centre of attention in Masham.
The Masham Sheep Fair returns this weekend to a town that has historically seen its large market square host sales that saw as many as 70,000 sheep traded each year.
This weekend’s fair - which is being held for the 31st year - is a commemoration of those times and it serves as a way of raising considerable sums of money for local good causes, as well as providing various sheep-related entertainment for visitors.
Started originally by Susan Cunliffe-Lister, a former president of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, and a group of volunteers three decades ago, its first instalment was seen then as a one-off event to raise money for farmers in Africa, but when a total of £7,950 was raised, it was decided that the fair would continue as an annual fundraising event.
Since the first fair, a grand total of nearly £160,000 has been raised for Yorkshire-based charities. The beneficiaries of this year’s event will include Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
Among the programme for this weekend is a sheep show in the market square which involves around 30 classes and incorporates hundreds of entries of sheep across the two days. Some of the summer show season’s most successful and familiar sheep exhibitors are due to take part.
There will also be sales of fleeces, a craft market, the Bishop Blaize procession, a wool craft contest comprising six competition sections in the town hall, an art exhibition and demonstrations of sheep racing and sheepdog herding.
Additional entertainment comes in the form of performances by hand bell ringers and Morris dancers also feature and both Theakston and Black Sheep breweries are opening up for tours.
A flower display in St Mary’s Church has been arranged according to the theme ‘Harvest of Water’ and there will be a small children’s fair.
Tomorrow evening - Saturday, September 24 - at 7pm, a ‘Sheep Tales’ evening will be held at St Mary’s to coincide with the fair.
Featuring a pie and pea supper with award-winning pies from Beavers Butchers of Masham, tickets will be available on the door priced £10.
Proceeds from the evening are in aid of farming help charities RABI and The Farming Community Network.