Wensleydale Show returns with new parking and more support than ever after challenging year

Out-of-town, adequate car parking space and a show that covers a healthy acreage were three of the major factors that the current chairman of Wensleydale Agricultural Society said brought about the committee’s decision to go ahead with Wensleydale Show on Saturday August 28.

Wensleydale Show chair Kenton Foster

Kenton Foster was raised and lives just three miles from the showground at Garriston Farm. He has served on the committee for over 20 years and this year’s show will be his second in the hot seat.

Kenton said a vote was taken on whether the show would take place and that once the decision was made it was full steam ahead and that he is looking forward to welcoming all visitors and exhibitors to the show.

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“We had been unsure what to do, like everybody else, so we took a vote. I totally understand all points of view, but I’m also really looking forward to the show.

“We’ve undertaken our risk assessments and several of us attended the Great Yorkshire Show and have copied a few things we picked up along the way.

“There was a natural concern for everyone who attends, but when I go to our local honeypot visitor centres in the dale like Hawes or Reeth holidaymakers are all already here in Wensleydale and in tighter spaces than we have at the showground where everything has that extra space. There are literally thousands sat on Reeth Green, closer than they will be at the show.”

Kenton said the cattle and sheep entries had been coming in towards the numbers that would normally be the case, despite some not having thought a show would be on. Kenton shows his own sheep at several shows and said he hadn’t planned on any shows taking place this year but will have some entries himself.

“I won’t have anything of mine how I usually like them to be, but it’s the taking part that counts. This will be my first show this year. It probably won’t be my most fruitful, but at least we will have the classes and numbers are looking good.

“What is really nice is that some of those who have shown at the Great Yorkshire or at Driffield are making the effort to come and support us too. I had one show colleague from further afield who asked whether he could come along as he wouldn’t normally have done so. We have had people who have never entered Wensleydale Show before and that’s great news. We hope everyone keeps entering in future years.”

Wensleydale was always known as a major dairy farming area and Kenton said that dairy cows remain a highlight of the show.

“One of our particularly strong sections is always the cattle and specifically the dairy classes which are some of the best in the county. We were a little worried a few years ago when it looked like dairy farmers were either getting bigger or leaving the industry, but we continue to have a cracking turnout of dairy cattle.

“Metcalfe Farms and Pratts of Bellerby are very good dairy farms and Philip Metcalfe and James Pratt are both on the committee. There was a time when James’s family would walk their cows to the showground, it is that close for them.”

Wensleydale Show is as much a local show as it is a tourist day out and Kenton said the society is keen to ensure it remains that way. There are trophies awarded for best local exhibitors as well as the pedigree breed champions that are open to every entry, but it is also a show that wants to continue encouraging future generations.

“We have to find ways of keeping young ones in the community and involved with the show. Keeping a local angle will help us find the people who will hopefully come on to the show committee or help in some way in the future.

“As a show society we always try to award a bursary each year. It is aimed at offering funding for appropriate training for those in the community. We had three recipients last year and we have one applicant so far this year. We would like more.

“One young man received an award to train as an artificial inseminator of cattle on the dairy farm he works on.

“That kind of thing benefits his employer and himself but also the community as it offers him the opportunity to contribute further to our local economy.”

This year’s show will also feature a new ridden heavy horse class in memory of former heavy horse steward, Alan Hutchinson, and there will be special thoughts from many at the show for popular livestock exhibitor, Hannah Brown, who tragically lost her life earlier this year. Kenton said both are a sad loss to the show world and the farming community.

“Hannah was always a great supporter of Wensleydale and many other shows. She is already sadly missed. It is thinking about Hannah and Alan that puts everything into perspective.”

Wensleydale Show will take place on Saturday, August 28.