Driffield Show revels in the heat at 144th edition

It is a show day that rarely delivers anything other than scorching heat and the umbrellas shielding the sheep in their pens told of another baking hot Driffield Show.

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    Umbrellas lend shade to sheep in the heat at Driffield Show. Picture by Simon Hulme.

    A gentle breeze was refreshing come the afternoon, but the 144th show, one of the country's largest one-day agricultural events, was true to form at the start of the harvest season.

    This year, the show was of course without its usual pig classes after a decision yesterday to cancel the section following a confirmed case of swine dysentery in the local area.

    The pig tent remained in place on the showground in Kelleythorpe - and a pig's face featured as the main image on the front of the show programme - but the stalls inside the marque were empty.

    Such unfortunate disruption seemed to have little noticeable effect on the paying public, with the showground's avenues and ring sides swelling with a large number of visitors within an hour or so of the gates opening.

    Jessie Barker, aged eight, from Kirkbymoorside with Libby, a Belgian Blue Cross Calf at Driffield Show. Picture by Simon Hulme.

    The other livestock classes did not disappoint, with numbers reported to be up in the sheep and dairy classes.

    Richard Dee, chief sheep steward, said: "We're having another wonderful year. We are over 50 sheep up on last year and we have included Ryeland breed classes for the first time. We've over 450 sheep in total. People love Driffield Show and I think being in the middle of the country does help."

    Mr Dee said he was encouraged by his section getting the backing of four new stewards this year, with show societies reliant on the next generation coming through to ensure their events prosper for years to come.

    Sam Beachell of nearby Beswick, who runs a flock of 25 pedigree ewes with his wife Sarah, found the going tough in the sheep rings as the heat made getting his Texel to stand still hard work. Nonetheless, his homebred gimmer shearling impressed the judges sufficiently to be named the show's supreme sheep champion.

    More than 250 cattle were exhibited at Driffield Show in its 144th year. Picture by Simon Hulme.

    "All the hard work has been worthwhile. It feels really good to win," said Mr Beachell, whose winner had previously been named female champion and reserve champion at Lincoln Show and won Malton Show's interbreed championship.

    In reserve was a three-shear Charollais, Boyo Rolls Royce, shown by Ryan Todd and belonging to his wife Kerry's parents T & J Hunter of Hunmanby.

    The supreme dairy champion of the show was M Southwell and Partners' Huntholme Kitty Zebra 51, a Holstein in milk shown by Andrew and Joanne Chapman and their daughter Stella, of Hempholme.

    Ms Chapman, 16, had reared the homebred animal from a calf. It has since had two calves of its own and milks about 45 litres a day.

    In reserve was a homebred Jersey belonging to Judith Waring, shown in the ring by Becky Waring. The same cow had come second in its class at last week's Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate.

    The supreme beef championship provided a stern test for judge Alastair Smith from Newark, who had a tough challenge to pick out a winner from a stunning line up of breed champions.

    Mr Smith eventually opted for John Hollingsworth's Simmental as his champion. The cow, with calf at foot, is the daughter of a two-time Driffield supreme champion and national breed champion and is turning heads in its own right having also recently picked up the female champion rosette at Lincoln Show.

    It was shown in the ring by the owner's son Craig Hollingsworth, of Midhopestones, Sheffield, and his girlfriend Danielle Taylor.

    Taking reserve honours was a seven-year-old Charolais that was the interbreed champion at Lincoln, shown by Harvey Wood from Sproatley near Hull.

    Elsewhere at the show, Joseph's Amazing Racing Camels were the star attraction in the main ring and gardening tips were given in a horticulture marquee.

    Fly fishing, terrier racing and gun dog demonstrations were among a range of activities in a countryside arena, while a food theatre featured cooking masterclasses by Stephanie Moon, chef consultant at Rudding Park, Harrogate, The Yorkshire Wolds Cookery School and Rose Cottage Butchers, among others.

    Mark Flint, vice president of Driffield Agricultural Society, said: "We have a lot of people here and that's always great to see, the weather's fine and the atmosphere is fantastic."

    Of the show's importance to the farming community and the public, he added: "Happening at the start of harvest, it's a great opportunity for us to get together before we all think about nothing else but crops.

    "Just walking around you can tell there are people from all walks of life here and they've all got an interest. It's great as an industry for us to be interacting with them."