Gargrave Show evolves with fell run and fun dog show as it returns for 116th year

New Gargrave Show president Paul Watson is delighted the 116th show is returning next weekend (Saturday August 20).

He attended the show as a child and has been involved with it for over 50 years, but he warns that unless newer, younger blood starts taking more of an active role, he fears for the show’s long-term future.

“We are all looking forward to putting on Gargrave Show once again after two years of it not being held because of the Covid restrictions.

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“I have always loved my home show here in the Craven area. I well remember coming every year as a child and enjoyed looking at all the different breeds of sheep, cattle and heavy horses. The show has always attracted entries from far and wide.

Gargrave Show's Paul WatsonGargrave Show's Paul Watson
Gargrave Show's Paul Watson

“Our sheep classes have a great reputation with pedigree classes for Texel, Beltex, Charollais, Kerry Hill, Dalesbred, Mule, Masham, Teeswater and Jacob.

“We also still have a good reputation for our dairy classes for Jersey, Holstein, Dairy Shorthorn and Ayrshire even though our dairy farmer numbers around here aren’t what they were. We don’t attract the same number of dairy cows as years ago either, mainly because there aren’t the people about any longer.

“We have a really good committee that works very hard but it’s the same old story as a lot of things in life, that most of the work comes down to the committed few.

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“We are most definitely in need of more younger people coming forward to take the show on for the future. Our longest serving committee member is farmer John Hall. His son’s wife Lisa is in charge of the horticulture section.

Gargrave Show returnsGargrave Show returns
Gargrave Show returns

“Cathy Cromarty, another of our past presidents, will have been involved just as long as me and is our chief sheep steward; another past president Jonathan Stockton, our local vet, is chief beef cattle steward with former dairy farmer and past president Jimmy Fitton is chief dairy steward.

“I have Annabel Mason, who farms at Embsay, help me with taking minutes and keeping me in order.”

As well as having taken on the president’s role this year Paul is also show secretary and tradestand secretary and as such he sees first-hand exactly what is going on with every aspect of the show.

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“We put on what is still a truly agricultural and countryside show that is well supported by the community and local agricultural businesses and those from the village of Gargrave.

“We don’t have a bought-in attraction for the main ring but we have activity in there all the time including show jumping, working hunters, heavy horses, vintage cars and tractors, the grand parade and our sports including children’s races and the really popular fell run up Sharp Haw on Flasby Fell with the excellent Roger Ingham commentating in his usual distinctive manner.

“I’m always keen on thanking all of those who let us use their land too. The showfield has been at four different venues in the time I’ve been involved.

“At present we are in a 30-acre field that was owned by the late Mr Michael Fenwick and now by his family, that is rented by John Tennant who farms at Bordley. We’ve been there around 20 years in the shadow of Eshton Hall.

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“We park cars on the late Edward Taylor’s field and the fell run to Sharp Haw takes the runners through Keith Chapman’s land, the man that owns Flasby Estate.”

Paul said that there have been some notable successes for the show in recent times and that this year has seen some positive news on the show’s return.

“A few years ago we introduced a dog show that people can enter on the day and that has proved really popular with the final judging taking place in the main ring.

“We’ve also seen a 30 per cent increase in marquees this year and we’ve held our admission prices.

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“We have found tradestands a little harder to get this year as some have gone out of business during Covid, but we have retained our stalwarts of such as Skipton Livestock Market, Craven Farm Vets, the NFU, Townson Tractors and Midgley Motors.

“On a personal note on behalf of the show I would like to pass on our thanks to Michael Cook of TN Cook who has supported us for many years."

Paul said public transport to the show for villagers and those who want to leave their cars in Gargrave was once again available.

“We have a free minibus offering a shuttle service to and from the showground courtesy of Peter Watson of Skipton Self Drive.

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“It will pick up from the centre of Gargrave and also the railway station, unless the strike action on the railway takes place.”

Gargrave Show gets under way the trio of shows in the area that also includes Malham Show (Saturday 27 August) and is completed with Kilnsey Show (Tuesday 30 August).

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