Fresh at 40 as the North Yorkshire County Show enjoys a flush of youth

A younger generation came to the fore as a classic Yorkshire show fixture celebrated a milestone year in only its second incarnation at its new home near Bedale.

Six-year-old Ruby Ruddy with her Suffolk sheep at the 40th North Yorkshire County Show. Pictures by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Mercifully for the livestock, exhibitors and stewards in particular, temperatures were cooler than at last summer’s North Yorkshire County Show, as the Camp Hill Estate followed up on its 2017 debut as hosts of the long-running event.

In the main ring, Matt Coulter, aka the Kangaroo Kid, drew some of the biggest crowds of the day as the Australian stuntman and his team performed daring manoeuvres and jumps on quad bikes, including four spectators joining him on board as he pulled wheelies.

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But the show, which was previously held under the guise of Northallerton Agricultural Show, has not departed from its countryside roots. Equine competitions were held, there was a parade by the Hurworth Hounds, a first farrier display at the show and all the traditional livestock classes.

John Dinsdale with his 1935 Oliver Hart-Parr, part of a display of vintage machinery and classic cars at the North Yorkshire County Show.

There was some suggestion that visitor numbers were up this year as the paying public became more accustomed to the show’s new location in the village of Kirklington, a trend that was replicated in sheep entries, though the number of cattle dipped.

Alan Goldie, the show’s chief cattle steward, said that while the standard of animals on show was up, entry numbers were down in both the beef and dairy sections.

“It concerns me a bit,” he said. “It’s probably the pressure the agricultural industry is under. Less people can justify the cost of exhibiting. But there’s cracking quality on show. There’s cattle here that is fit to compete on a national level and will do so as the summer goes on.

“A lot of exhibitors use this show as a sort of dry run for the Great Yorkshire Show and see how their animals behave and perform.”

Ten-year-old Matthew Bentley from Thirsk, with his winning British Blonde.

Mr Goldie also said he was encouraged by how most of those who exhibited cattle were under the age of 30, particularly in the dairy section.

And it was Mr Goldie’s 18-year-old daughter, Anna Goldie, who picked up the show’s supreme dairy title for homebred Holstein, Wiskemanor Aftershock Papoose of Manor House Farm in Danby Wiske. The same cow won last year’s dairy interbreed championship at Stokesley Show.

The reserve dairy champion was a homebred six-year-old Jersey and mother of four calves called Knayton Sultan Thrush, shown by Laura Crosby, 23, of Southend Farm, Knayton near Thirsk.

Ms Crosby said she loves showing because “it is a window for the public into what farming is like”.

Joe Carey combs his Chinchilla rabbit. Animals that competed for prizes at the show also included ferrets, poultry and hamsters.

Dylan Townend, who farms at Broughton near Malton, continued his rich vein of form with Clifftown Ladyluck, a British Blue heifer that has won both of its other breed championships this season at Northumberland and Nottinghamshire County shows. He repeated the trick here and then some, picking up the supreme beef title with a beast that picked up a junior champion title at last year’s Great Yorkshire Show, though is on the waiting list for next month’s grand event in Harrogate.

The reserve beef animal was Hallfield Miranda, a British Blonde shown by Lucy Corner of Aycliffe.

Sheep entries soared to around 700, about 100 more than last year, with the introduction of a Blue Texel class going some way to boost numbers.

Johnny Stables must have been one of the show’s happiest exhibitors. After touring more than half a dozen shows each year for the last seven years or so, he recorded his first ever supreme sheep title.

Dylan Townend with Clifftown Ladyluck, the supreme beef champion.

The 35-year-old County Durham farmer has been showing his winning Bleu de Maine sheep since she was a lamb in 2015 and he has been exhibiting at the North Yorkshire County Show since 2011.

“It’s unbelievable, quite surreal,” he said, on being presented with the champion rosette.

In reserve was a homebred Wensleydale shown by Anna and Julie Pennell from Darlington, the same sheep that won her breed class at last year’s Masham Sheep Fair.

The show was declared a success by Jo Ropner, who owns the showfield as part of the Camp Hill Estate with her husband Robert.

“The showground is fuller, the car parks are overflowing and there are more people here this year because it’s not as hot.

“I absolutely love the show. The characters and people I have met this morning has been outrageous and we have learned so much. We feel really lucky to be part of this.”