An old favourite returned in new surroundings as the 39th North Yorkshire County Show made its debut at the Camp Hill estate, home of the Ropner family.
It remains to be seen just what effect the switch from Otterington Hall, the event’s home for the previous 19 years, to its new location near the village of Kirklington, had on visitor numbers. However, by early-afternoon the ring sides filled up with spectators who enjoyed a packed programme of entertainment in the main ring, which was this year named in honour of one of the show’s most dedicated and knowledgeable characters, the late show commentator, Mike Keeble.
Mr Keeble’s family, who operate local business Heck sausages, had requested the tribute and sponsored the Mike Keeble Main Ring.
Alan Andrew, the show’s secretary, said: “Mike was such a nice guy and his was a sad loss. He was one of the best commentators in the North of England.”
Robert Heneage, who succeeds Mr Keeble in the commentary box, added: “He spent a long time supporting this show and it’s absolutely wonderful to name the ring after him.”
There were reports of some visitors encountering navigation problems on finding the new show site and some equine visitors entering through wrong gates - perhaps typical ‘teething problems’ of a new location.
Robert Ropner, who owns and runs the estate with his wife Jo, said he was delighted to welcome the public onto his land, for what was the highest-attended public event held on the estate in the family’s 22 years there.
“I’m absolutely so over the moon to be hosting an event like this, especially as we’ve been country flock ourselves for most of our lives,” Mr Ropner said.
“To do something for the local community, given the nature of the political situation and the other issues that surround us through the media in our everyday lives, it makes it critical to do something that brings people together - that’s the overriding thing.
“And for us, it’s almost putting a canvass out and saying we really want to hold these type of events.”
Mr Ropner took part in show proceedings himself by riding out into the main ring in full hunt dress, as part of a display by the Bedale Hunt, of which he is Master of Foxhounds.
A day of scorching heat may have proved a blessing for ice cream sales but it meant livestock exhibitors were worked extra hard. Cattle were watered down after appearing in the ring to keep them cool and had to be doused in sun cream, while many sheep were given some much needed shade by tarpaulin sheets, gazebos and umbrellas erected over their pens.
Poultry entries numbered 500 in an encouraging display following recent avian flu restrictions and livestock stewards reported their sections as having similar entry figures to last year’s show, although numbers were down in the commercial beef category.
The supreme dairy champion was Littlebridge Goldchip Honey, a two-and-a-half-year-old Holstein heifer in milk shown by Lizzie James of JL Miles and Son from the village of Ellerbeck near Northallerton. It followed in its mother’s footsteps three years earlier in winning its breed class.
Mrs James, whose next show outing with her winner is the Great Yorkshire Show, said: “I’m really pleased to win today. It’s one of my favourite shows.”
Reserve champion dairy cow was Atley Hill St Patrick Pamela, an Ayrshire shown by Kit Alderson of South Cowton.
The supreme beef champion was a British Blonde, Lucyland Jellybean, a three-year-old cow with calf at foot, Lucyland Miss Mix Up, which recently won the interbreed championship at Otley Show.
Exhibitor, Lucy Corner, of Aycliffe, said: “This is the third show this year she has entered and she has won interbreed champion at each one.”
Reserve beef champion was a 20-month-old Belgian Blue shown by Leighton’s Liam and Mick Rodney and Ben Hardcastle, having also finished runner up to Miss Corner’s Blonde at Otley.
In the sheep section, the interbreed title fell to a Suffolk gimmer shearling from the Moorsley prefix shown by Katie Brannen of Cumbria, and reserve champion was 15-year-old Laura Beaton, of Green Hammerton, with her homebred Wensleydale hogget in wool.