Keeping local heritage at the heart of Moors show

Janet Dring (left), former chairman of Rosedale Show with her sister-in-law Samantha Dring, who is the show's current chairman.  (Gl1006/74a)
Janet Dring (left), former chairman of Rosedale Show with her sister-in-law Samantha Dring, who is the show's current chairman. (Gl1006/74a)
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STEWARDING at agricultural shows can be an arduous task making sure exhibitors and visitors are made welcome and that each class goes without a hitch.

Countless volunteers help out at every show each year and their time and effort is much appreciated if often unheralded by others, however an incident at Rosedale Show, which takes place again next Saturday, August 15, may live forever in one steward’s mind. It was the day when he suffered a revealing moment.

Sam Dring is the current chairman of Rosedale Show and she looks back with fond, but at the time very stressful, memories of when the beer tent blew away.

“The tent just flew off. It caused a bit of trauma at the time, in fact to us it was horrendous, but when you look back now you can see the humour in it. People were still sat there with their knives and forks in hand but with no tent around them and over them - and there was the sheep steward sat with his wife having lunch. We’d been looking everywhere for him.”

Rosedale Show has one of the most beautiful and picturesque settings, and is in the geographical centre of the North York Moors. The village of Rosedale Abbey at the foot of Chimney Bank has been a favourite of walkers, cyclists and caravanners for decades and the show, situated on the playing field behind the recently reopened Milburn Arms Hotel and Inn, provides a fantastic view of the dale.

Sam is daughter-in-law of Janet Dring who was chairman of the show for many years before Sam took on the mantle six years ago. The Dring family farms at Rock House in Hartoft where they have suckler cattle and run a stone and stonemasonry business. They also have additional land around Rosedale.

“Hartoft is very much also part of the dale,” says Janet. “Rosedale is sometimes referred to as the 13-mile valley that includes the communities of Rosedale East, Rosedale Abbey, Thorgill and Hartoft.”

The show first saw the light of day in 1871 at the time when there was considerable growth due to iron ore mining. Prior to the mines opening the area was home to a population of 548 but by 1871 this had grown to 2,839. The population explosion saw the dale become not just an agricultural but also an industrial centre and that is reflected in the name of the show’s organising committee – Rosedale & District Agricultural, Horticultural & Industrial Society.

“Rosedale was full of working class people,” says Janet who is a member of the thriving local history group. “And our industrial tent maintains some of those cottage-style industries of sewing and woodworking that would have been popular at that time.”

Inevitably there have been a number of changes over the years but outwardly these may be somewhat imperceptible. Sam explains why.

“I’ve been on the committee for 18 years and we try hard for it not to change. We never alter something that works but we have made a few tweaks along the way. We add or take off classes, changing with the times and have a bit of a three strikes and you’re out rule. That means that if we introduce a class we will keep it three years and see how it goes. That’s long enough for us to see whether it’s a success.

“We made a big decision a few years ago to abolish car parking on the main field for all but 60 cars around the main ring. We also made a further move that car parking generously made available in the Fosters’ and Browns’ farm fields next to the show would be free. That could have cost us dearly but it has worked a treat and improved our visitor numbers substantially.”

There was a time when the cattle entries at Rosedale Show were on the meagre side but they’re now on the up and there was a record entry of 30 cattle last year. It’s heading towards another record this year.

“It’s not cheap bringing cattle to any show and the same goes for heavy horses that we pride ourselves on. We’ve also improved things for the cattle handlers who now have their own ring to parade around. We also appreciate that stalwarts of the showing world aren’t around forever and there’s a need to bring in young blood. That’s why we have young handlers classes in not just cattle but sheep, rabbits and dogs sections.”

The sheep classes include breed sections for Swaledales, Mashams & Mules, Blue Faced Leicesters and Texels with others for butchers lambs plus rare and minority breeds.

“We’re particularly proud of our main ring in that we have never gone down the route of non-countryside attractions such as stunt riders and every year the committee takes a look at what we’re putting on and discusses whether we are giving £5 worth of entertainment - that’s the entry fee for adults. It all gets particularly stressful in this last week but we believe Rosedale Show is still one of the friendliest around.”