Countryside Live: Rural message delivered successfully despite changes

IN THE midst of a showground partly under construction the organisers of Countryside Live had a reshuffle of exhibit space to overcome to build on the success of previous instalments of the Great Yorkshire Show’s little sister.

It was the first Countryside Live as show director for North Yorkshire farmer Charles Mills.

A new temporary structure was erected outside the remaining exhibition hall to showcase horticulture exhibits and the Create and Explore area, among other attractions, and the beef cattle were hosted in the cattle sheds usually reserved for the Great Yorkshire.

Signs of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s largest ever investment into its Harrogate showground’s infrastructure were plains to see with the metal frame of a new £10million exhibition hall extending skywards. The new building, which adds extra exhibition space at the venue, is on schedule to open next spring in time for the 2016 show season.

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There was some persistent drizzle to cope with in Harrogate too yesterday but the YAS’s chief executive Nigel Pulling declared as a success the 13th annual agricultural showpiece with visitor numbers holding their own at 12,101 over the two days.

Mr Pulling said: “I’m very happy with how it’s gone. It’s a delight this show. We’ve had to do things in a slightly different format this year because of the changes going on here and we were a bit concerned about whether people would take to the changes but all the comments we’ve had suggest that they have been well received.

“The cattle in the cattle sheds worked well and families love this show, they spend a lot of time here, learning about farming, food and the countryside and that’s really why we do this.

“Clearly we would have liked a few more visitors but it is on par with last year.”

The autumnal weather played its part, he said, in keeping some people at home following a 22 per cent rise in ticket sales ahead of the event.

“It was on the day sales that were down but today (Sunday) there was people everywhere. There was a lovely atmosphere and as long as the visitors are happy, I’m happy.”

Mr Pulling said that he was looking forward to the extra capacity that will be afforded to next year’s event.

“Next year we will have the new hall and extra space, and we are already thinking about how we can make it even better. The new building is a great platform and another opportunity to get the message out there about food, farming and the countryside.”

North Yorkshire farmer Charles Mills, overseeing his first event as YAS show director, said: “Our aim is to inspire people about agriculture and the rural economy, whether it’s through seeing the first class animals, the excellent trade stands, or the demonstrations and attractions, and I certainly think we have achieved that.”