The arrival of sunshine and blue skies brought what is thought to have been an unprecedented number of show-goers to Harrogate, although the knock-on effect was major problems on the surrounding roads, both during the morning and as the day’s proceedings came to an end.
Early traffic congestion was compounded by a crash on the A658 near Knaresborough at 8.30am which was cleared in about an hour, said Nigel Morgan, operations director for the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.
He said Wednesday was always the busiest day of the show, typically attracting between 2,000 and 3,000 visitors more than those who pass through the showground gates on the Tuesday or the Thursday.
On most years, the day’s visitors are all parked up by 11.30am but this year the last of the vehicles caught up in the delays arrived just after 1.30pm, Mr Morgan said.
There was an estimated 20,000 vehicles in the showground’s car parks - some 3,000 more than on day two of last year’s show.
Mr Morgan confirmed that yesterday morning’s traffic congestion was the worst he had seen in his 13-year tenure in the role of operations director.
The Society made every effort to make people aware of what was going on by posting on social media and asking people to be patient.
Mr Morgan said the problems were compounded by the earlier crash, adding: “We apologised but this was really beyond our control as it was not the fault of our traffic management plans.
“It’s down to the popularity of the show which now people are putting in their diaries and shows the demand each year is growing.”
People who have purchased single day tickets for the three-day event are able to use their pass on a day of their choosing and the wet weather of opening day may have led to the surge in visitors on Wednesday.
And a spokeswoman for the Yorkshire Agricultural Society earlier asked motorists to be patient. She confirmed that traffic flows began moving at 8.30pm.
In a statement, the spokeswoman said: “Due to high volumes of traffic exiting at the showground at the same time, some congestion has been caused. We understand this must be frustrating for our visitors – please bear with us as we are working as hard as we can to ensure the safe exit of traffic from the site. Some gates have been closed and are opening on a strategic basis to help traffic move and this situation is changing all the time so please wait in your vehicles while we manage the traffic flow.”