PUBS across Yorkshire are hoping to pull in the votes as well as the pints as the search begins to find the county’s most popular local.
Nominations are now open for this year’s Yorkshire’s Favourite Pub competition, run by Welcome to Yorkshire in partnership with The Yorkshire Post.
A staggering 18,000 people voted in last year’s competition which saw The Bull Inn, in West Tanfield, crowned the county’s favourite.
Previous winners have also included The Fleece Inn, Barkisland, Woolly Sheep Inn, Skipton, and The Carpenter’s Arms, Felixkirk.
Last year’s winner, owner of The Bull Inn, Gil Richardson, admitted getting “a bit obsessed” with winning the title after being a runner-up for two years in a row.
“We put a lot of work into it, constantly talking to people about it. It’s actually getting people to vote that’s the important thing,” she said. “I’m not going to go as mad this time. It’s just brilliant we have had it for a full year. ”
The pub is one of a dying breed – a traditional village pub with traditional pub grub and “one of the things that people say they like is that they can sit in the bar and take part in the banter”, says Gil.
She added: “The thing that makes us quite unique is that the actual guts of the building is a traditional pub and in winter people come from a couple of miles away to have a meal and there are also lots of people just coming for a drink.
“In the garden in summer we attract all the visitors from the camp-site and people driving through the village will come and see us.
“We are very lucky we can be both sorts of pubs – one for tourists but also for our locals.”
Gil took over the Bull Inn with her partner, Phil Spellacy, in October 2012, and says one of the secrets to its success was knowing when to leave well alone.
She said: “I made a mental note not to change anything – just leave it and see how it settles, which is how I think we ended up with the atmosphere.
“It’s continuity. I had a feeling the pub actually belongs to the locals and pretty much it is as it always was.”
People have until Wednesday, May 17 to vote at yorkshire.com/pub and say why their nomination is worthy of the title.
A shortlist of the top 30 pubs will then be drawn up, all of which will feature in Welcome to Yorkshire’s Ale Trail.
Twelve finalists will be chosen by a panel of judges, with the public getting the chance to vote for the overall winner.
The winning pub and two runners-up will be announced at the Great Yorkshire Show on Tuesday, July 11.
Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “Here in Yorkshire, pubs are not only places to relax and enjoy great beer and incredible food – they’re also a vital part of our communities and heritage.
“This competition is a fantastic way to recognise and celebrate Yorkshire pubs and the important role they play in our cities, towns and villages. So, whether it’s cosy surroundings, real ale or a fantastic countryside view, we want to know what makes your local your favourite.”
Lee Roberts, one of the owners of the Fleece Inn, which overlooks the village of Ripponden as well as across the Calder Valley, was a previous winner and was in last year’s final.
He said: “We’re still the best. The pub has views to die for, food to die for.
“We are pushing hard and always looking for constant improvement. We don’t rest on our laurels – we are a young team and we appreciate we have to be going forward.”
The former manager with the Wetherspoons pub chain is now chief executive of Boothwood Ltd, which has an expanding portfolio, including fish restaurants and wet-led pubs.
Their latest acquisition is an old coaching inn in Ponteland, Newcastle, which is reopening as a fish restaurant in May.
The company put over £1m into refurbishing the Fleece Inn four years ago.
Lee said: “It’s about constantly updating.
“(At the Fleece) we have a full-time maintenance team and a full-time decorator and joiner. In the summer there’s over 70 staff and sometimes 40 on a shift.
“We do around 2,000 covers a week and in summer it goes crazy because the terrace has a huge outdoor kitchen.”
Another contender and former winner is The Carpenter’s Arms overlooking the green vale of Mowbray on the outskirts of Thirsk.
It has been part of the Provenance Inns and Hotels Group, which also owns the West Park Hotel in Harrogate, since 2010.
Managing director Michael Ibbotson said: “Yorkshire has lots of great inns. It was great to win and it’s great to be part of this again.
“The Yorkshire ale trail is great to be involved in and this highlights us a county.”
To vote, go to https://www.yorkshire.com/pub