Ryedale Show changes with the times as it returns with new stewards recruited in the local pub

Welburn Park near Kirkbymoorside is one of the most iconic of all Yorkshire agricultural show venues. Its two levels with the tradestands on a plateau above, leading down on a gentle slope to the livestock classes has long been the home of Ryedale Show that returns this year after missing 2020 and 2021.

Christine Thompson farms nearby at Reagarth Farm, Helmsley with her husband David and is the show’s general secretary. Christine said that when Ryedale Show makes its comeback on Tuesday, July 26 three years since its last it will be with some new faces as stewards and with new systems in place that she hopes may encourage others to take part.

“Unfortunately, the intervening years have seen us lose some of our hard-working team along the way and while we still have tremendous support we decided to hold a recruitment evening at a local pub, The Rose & Crown in Nawton, at the beginning of May, which worked out really well and we now have new volunteers and new stewards.

“It’s sometimes thought that nobody is coming through, but we’ve found that those who are taking part this year for the first time are really looking forward to playing their part this year. It’s been really refreshing.”

Ryedale Show general secretary Christine Thompson

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Christine said the moves made by the show to making things more up to date in terms of using new technologies will probably see younger, more tech-savvy people coming on board too.

“We’re using new systems and automating things wherever possible. Some of that was forced upon us when we had to change our show software, but it means those involved in have all been learning more about what can be done. For instance, it is now possible for all our stewards to record results on their mobile phones. That’s one way in which we believe it will encourage those who are used to handling everything by new technology. We are also selling online tickets.”

Ryedale Show, situated on the edge of the North York Moors, ushers in the start of a plethora of smaller shows across the Moors that includes Danby, Rosedale, Farndale, Egton, Bilsdale, Osmotherley, Boon Hill and Thornton-le-Dale. Ryedale is by far the largest, attracting 15,000 and Christine said it had been unfortunate that it had not gone ahead last year when the Great Yorkshire Show and Driffield, held before Ryedale’s usual date, had both taken place.

“For us it was about the road map that had been put in place at the time. We weren’t in the same position as the Great Yorkshire and Driffield who I know worked like mad to pull it off, but for us it was a very difficult decision not to go ahead and one that we made early, in March.

“The majority vote of our trustees was that the financial risk of saying yes and then pulling the show was too great for us. I have always said that if our show had been held in August it would probably have gone ahead but ours is always in July.”

Christine said that the costs they had incurred without a show were already a cause for concern for the show that started in 1855.

“Some people might think that if there isn’t a show you don’t have expenses, but you do. There are normal running costs including insurance and other overheads. Hopefully this year the sun will shine, we will have a bumper attendance and we can recoup some of the losses we’ve had from the last two no-shows.”

Entries for this year’s show amongst all of the hundreds of classes that include livestock classes for pigs, goats, sheep and cattle as well as several rings for horses, plus masses of produce and crafts are all still currently open, but Christine said that now is the time to get those entries in.

“We are a little down on what we were pre-Covid but everything is very different at the moment and apart from a few little shuffles around the showground of the vintage tractors moving to a different base and the North York Moors Moorland Trust organising a small country pursuits area we are keeping everything else pretty much the same this year.”

This year sees a Fadmoor takeover of the top jobs at the show with John Simpson of Newfield Organics as show chairman and farming couple Joe and Shirley Wildsmith as joint show presidents. Christine said the couple are long-serving show stewards.

“Joe and Shirley have been stewards of the fleece section for many years. This year will also be Malcolm Leckenby of Appleton-le-Moors last as produce secretary. He’s done the job for the last 30 years. Jarvis Browning, our honorary farrier, will be retiring after 41 years. Who knows, we might need another meeting in the pub to encourage even more stewards for the future.”

Christine said that one person who deserves much praise is landowner Will Shaw. “Shows such as Ryedale are only able to be put on by the generosity of such as Will.”