‘Proper local show’ pulls in crowds

All the summer shows have their followers and Gargrave’s fans like it because it is still a “proper local show”.

They mean it has healthy ratios of livestock to people, tractors to burger stands and locals to tourists.

Their definition of local does include a lot of Lancashire, which is closer than Leeds or York. Gargrave lies between Skipton and Settle, and the location shapes the show’s character. Its sheep competition is big in Mules, for example, because Mule ewes are a staple of this part of the Dales.

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Winston White picked up the Mule champion’s rosette on behalf of his son, Gavin, of Horton in Ribblesdale, and said: “It’s like running the mile. The standard goes up every year. If you can win this one and then go onto win Kilnsey Show, you can reckon yourself a world champion in Mules.”

Another Gargrave characteristic is a dairy section as big as the beef and including a category for Ayrshires, which are a minority taste, but have a cluster of followers in Lancashire. The winner came from Tyldesley, five miles from the Manchester Trafford Centre. Her owner, Ian Patrick, said: “You won’t get as much milk as you would out of a Holstein. But on average you will get two or three lactations more.”

Longevity is a focus of renewed attention and Janet Jones of Chorley took the opportunity to mention that her champion Jersey, and another of her squad of best specimens, were the offspring, aged five and three, of a cow of 13 which has just had her 11th.

The champion Holstein was said to be giving 45 litres a day. But the champion Dairy Shorthorn was not far behind – a 40-litre animal.

At the beef end of the tent, Gill and Miles Greenwood of Thornton, Bradford, were showing off a couple of specimens from their Parthenais herd – a French breed which has a following as a good bull for getting beef calves out of dairy cattle.

Somebody said it was good to see so many young faces. And after years of concern about the average age of hill farmers in particular, there were signs of new generations starting work on the farm instead of running away from it.

Best sheep in show was a Charollais ram from Robert Tindall and his son, Samuel, 24, from Wetherby. Best Dalesbred was shown by Josh Best, 20, one of the sons in JH & J Ryder & Sons of Haverah Park, Harrogate. Top Beltex was shown by Robert Garth, 31, of Keasden, near Clapham. In the dairy section, the winning Holstein was shown by Jennie Booth, 23, who has returned from Harper Adams College to work half-time with her parents at Earby, near Skipton, and half-time for AI suppliers Semex.

The Gargrave Show Fell Race is in the serious runners’ calendar and many entrants were heading straight off to run another one, at Burnsall. Winner from a record 108 entries in the senior race at Gargrave was local hero Harry Coates of Skipton AC. First woman was Emma Barclay of Ilkley Harriers.

Over in the vintage motors section, Brian Jameson and his brother, Paul, from Shipley, were settled in for the day behind a pale blue 1970 Ford Zephyr they rescued over two years and two weeks of evenings with spanners – which qualified them to talk to men with similar interests wherever they go.

“Put it in the middle of a field and open the bonnet and everybody is there,” summed up Brian, a retired builder.

Richard Gillam, a Yeadon butcher, knew what he meant. His out-of-work life is centred on a 1954 Albion tow-truck.

Saturday was also a perfect day for Rosedale Show, at Rosedale Abbey in the North York Moors. And yesterday was show day at Mirfield, near Dewsbury. See next Saturday’s Country Week for reports from those.

MARATHON MOVE TO RAISE CASH

SKIPTON physiotherapist Mark Wilkinson was at the show to row the 43rd of 50 half-marathons he is attempting, in 60 days, to raise money for a young client of his, Annabel Young, who was paralysed in a fall.

At 44, he has established the fastest time this year for the distance in the international competition run by the makers of the Concept 2 Indoor Rower. That effort, at Grassington Show, also took him within 80 seconds of the world record ... “but I can’t tell you how hard every second of that is to make up”, he said. His final public demonstrations of why he loses 4lb each row will be at Malhamdale Show, next Saturday, and Kilnsey Show, on August 30. See www.beingbeltrust.org.uk/