Weeton Show faces 'critical' year if its current format is to survive

Organisers of an agricultural show in North Yorkshire fear their long-running event will not survive in its current guise next year if its attendance is depleted for a second successive summer.

Young sheep farmers preparing for judging at Weeton Show in 2017. Picture by Adrian Murray.

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Paula Ware, who chairs Weeton Show, at last summer's event which was hit by downpours. Picture by Adrian Murray.

Unseasonable downpours blighted Weeton Show last year, meaning it attracted far fewer visitors than usual. Gate receipts were down by at least 80 per cent and, as a result, the show recorded a financial loss.

The situation left the show’s committee without the funds it had been relying on to make a donation to the show’s nominated charity for 2018, Harrogate-based horticultural organisation, Horticap.

With the intention of putting that right, the charity has been chosen as beneficiaries for this year’s show which returns on Sunday from 8am.

Show committee chairman Paula Ware said she hoped visitor numbers recovered, fearing that another poor attendance will seriously risk damaging the show’s format in 2020.

“This is a critical year for the show,” she said. “We maintain a contingency fund to allow for unforeseen events, but after last year’s poor weather the show made a significant loss.

“Because of this, we couldn’t fulfil our promise of a donation to our partner charity, Horticap, so this year we need to have a good show, with lots of visitors, to raise enough money for a significant donation to them.”

Ms Ware explained that Weeton Show is different to a lot of others, saying: “Unlike many shows, our primary purpose is to raise money for local charities, so it’s vital that the show goes well.

“If we don’t have a profitable show, we risk not being able to put on the show in its usual form next year.”

Weeton Show takes place between Otley and Harrogate in a showfield off Weeton Lane. It includes traditional horse, sheep, dog and poultry classes, and a produce tent featuring entries in competitions for fruit, flowers, vegetables and crafts.

There will also be a gun dogs demonstrations and scurry, the Rougemont Chase foot race and entertainment for children including a Punch and Judy show.