Richard Ashworth's show season starts at Scampston Hall

When you pick up a leaflet for an event it is extremely unlikely you consider anything other than whether you might go.

Richard Ashworth from Outdoor Shows Ltd at Scampston Hall near Malton, marking out the area where the Yorkshire Game and Country Fair takes place on May 19-20.
Richard Ashworth from Outdoor Shows Ltd at Scampston Hall near Malton, marking out the area where the Yorkshire Game and Country Fair takes place on May 19-20.

You almost certainly won’t think about the organisers and Pickering-based Richard Ashworth isn’t at all concerned over whether you know his name or not, but the young man who grew up on his father’s pig farm in Cropton in the North York Moors now runs several large scale summer events including next weekend’s Yorkshire Game and Country Fair at Scampston Hall, near Malton.

Richard is a one-man show-delivering machine running traction engine rallies, steam fairs, a modified car show and the game fair that also incorporates the UK Tractor Show and a tractor pulling competition. His shows span right across the North of England with outdoor events in Cheshire and North Yorkshire. It’s hard to believe he runs the whole business with no other full-time staff, he’s clearly following his parents’ family ethos towards business.

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“My parents had an 80-acre farm at Cropton where they had 400 breeding sows, plus chickens and a livestock haulage business. They came out of farming in 2001 and my father now has just one truck on European haulage. I was studying business and logistics at Newcastle University when they went out of agriculture and livestock haulage. Until then I’d thought about going into haulage and logistics.”

There's no season like show season: Richard fastens his 2018 events board at Scampston Hall.

Finding a new career path he joined the organisers of what was the renowned Pickering Traction Engine Rally held for many years at the show ground just south of Pickering where a mix of shows, live music events and car boot sales saw him cut his teeth in the outdoor show world.

In 2011 Richard went out on his own setting up Outdoor Shows and in seven years has built a portfolio of seven major outdoor shows attracting thousands and one indoor show.

“I’m flat out pretty much throughout the year and from now until September I’m on the road seven days a week pulling everything together and ensuring we put on a great show every time and get the number of people attending.

“I have a team of dedicated and enthusiastic leaflet droppers and for each event we will distribute between 50,000 to 80,000 leaflets. Yorkshire Game & Country Fair has had a leaflet drop of 60,000 over a two-to-three week period and we’ve put up or distributed 5000 posters everywhere from Sunderland to Scunthorpe and as far over as Barnsley and Doncaster.

“This is our third year at Scampston Hall following the event’s move from the Pickering show ground that has now been developed for log cabins. We kept it as the Pickering Game & Country Fair for the first two years but this year it has been rebranded to Yorkshire Game & Country Fair.

“Scampston Hall and Estate is such a fabulous venue and with it being on sandy land the drainage if the weather doesn’t shine on us is very good. Chris Legard of Scampston Hall is very much involved and is also now host to another of my events the Yorkshire Traction Engine Rally that takes place in September.”

Richard’s Yorkshire Game & Country Fair includes all of the game aspects of the countryside including clay shooting, archery, fly casting, gundog scurries and an air rifle range as well as country favourites showjumping, mounted games, heavy horses, lurcher and terrier racing and shows and a fun dog show for pets plus a fine food marquee, rural craft marquee and an old-time fair – but he’s also brought even more to the party in recent times with the addition of The UK Tractor Show and the tractor pulling competition.

“The UK Tractor Show is one of the three largest events of its kind and we will have between 200-250 vintage tractors here over the weekend.

“I started the tractor pulling competitions when we moved to Scampston and Chris Legard has been fantastic about it.

“He’s allowed us to build what is now Yorkshire’s premier tractor pulling track and the Yorkshire Tractor Pulling Club provides the sled. It’s an amazing part of the show and one that gets the crowd excited. Entries come from as far as Scotland.”

Richard’s events are clearly making their mark as next year’s Yorkshire Game & Country Fair heavy horse show is to be a qualifier for the main Shire Show at Peterborough. The heavy hitters of the heavy horse game including the Bedfords and Richardsons are already regulars.

“We get a very strong entry and offer a reasonable prize fund,” says Richard. “But we are not trying to be an agricultural show. We don’t have cattle, sheep, poultry or rare breeds. We might possibly add a rabbit class but I’m pretty much at my limit across the 80 acres we run the show.

“What I don’t want to do is dilute the game fair element. We have some of the leading names in country sports and we’re keen to attract even more to entertain and educate our crowds.”

Running events closer to home can make life somewhat easier for Richard who has a young family and the launch of the Whitby Traction Engine Rally last year, which will take place again over August 3-5 this year plus the launch of the Yorkshire Traction Engine Rally at Scampston (September 1-2) may at very least see Richard nearer his family longer for this summer.

“I don’t mind the travel as it is all part of the job, but the events being more in my area helps control the operating costs.

“I’ve used the same companies for marquees, set-ups, bars and other elements of the shows since I started and that helps those also based in this area too.”

Making sure events work well involves decent cash flow. Richard offers advance ticket sales and early trade stand booking discounts as incentives. “I’m delighted with what we have achieved across all the events and last year we had 4500 each day at Scampston. If the weather is kind I hope we will beat those figures.”