GYS: Powerful debut for farmer in leading show role

For the farmer making his debut as the Great Yorkshire Show's director, the past three days have been nothing less than a deeply emotional experience.

Charles Mills, show director for the Great Yorkshire Show walks through the crowds as his first show comes to the end.

Charles Mills still fondly recalls his early years of attending the show as a child, wearing corduroy trousers and sitting in the showground’s grandstand alongside his parents.

His love of this awesome spectacle of countryside life has blossomed over the years and before he took over from fellow farmer Bill Cowling at the end of last year’s show, Mr Mills had been a member of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s (YAS) governing body for 13 years.

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A former joint chief cattle steward too, Mr Mills said his first show as its director had been a powerful experience that he has cherished.

Charles Mills, show director for the Great Yorkshire Show walks through the crowds as his first show comes to the end.

As the 158th Great Yorkshire Show wound to a close today, Mr Mills told The Yorkshire Post: “It has been three wonderful days. The weather has been incredibly kind and people have responded to what we have put out there for them to promote the industry of agriculture and the wider countryside.

“We have tried to give more of a wider understanding of what we are about and explain a little bit more about food from field to fork - that is a well-used phrase but it sums up what we have been trying to do.”

The showground is a vast space that allows the organisers at the YAS to offer everything from first-class livestock competitions, to displays and demonstrations of a huge array of rural crafts and skills and a food emporium in its new £11.5m exhibition hall.

It was getting all too much for this Whitefaced Woodland Sheep who managed a yawn at the Great Yorkshire Show.

And one thing that Mr Mills, in his new role, really appreciated this year was the sheer scale of Yorkshire’s premier agricultural show.

“I’ve walked miles around the showground and I have had nothing but compliments about what we have done. It’s been an absolute pleasure as show director to walk around and people have been so considerate and thankful about what we have done.

“I have to say myself that when you go and look at the new hall, it’s an incredible building, beautifully designed, and from what I have heard it has been very well received.”

Mr Mills said he felt the show had also been enhanced this year by the addition of live robotic milking demonstrations that took place over all three days in a new purpose-built dairy unit, by chief garden show steward Martin Fish’s innovative designs, a well-supported celebration of Yorkshire’s forestry sector and a simulated grouse shoot in the Countryside Pursuits area.

Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate, seen from the Big Wheel. Picture: Tony Johnson.

But asked to pick his highlight, Mr Mills said he simply could not narrow it down to just one part of the event.

Instead, he answered: “The show. Everything that’s here.

“The attention to detail by the team, the stewards, the exhibitors, by everyone concerned, has made it a very special show.”

After three days of a showpiece that celebrates all that is truly great about Yorkshire’s rural communities and its glorious landscape, the big showground clean-up operation begins now, and so too the planning which begins all over again for the return of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s flagship event in summer 2017.

Charles Mills, show director for the Great Yorkshire Show walks through the crowds as his first show comes to the end.

SHOW’S ONLY SAD ELEMENT

Like any event of this scale - there was an estimated 130,000-plus visitors to the Harrogate showground over the three days - there was the odd problem.

On day two a water shortage meant public toilets were closed and a case of cattle tampering was detected in the dairy section leading to an animal being disqualified and the exhibitor banned from the show for the next three years, subject to any appeal.

Mr Mills said he was “very sad personally and for the Society” about the latter as the Society hoped it “would never see again” such malpractice.

It was getting all too much for this Whitefaced Woodland Sheep who managed a yawn at the Great Yorkshire Show.
Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate, seen from the Big Wheel. Picture: Tony Johnson.