Harrogate’s Great Yorkshire Show - what a difference a year makes

030713     Bill Cowling the Hon Show Director of the Great Yorkshire show  takes evasive action from the irrigation spray that was watering the main ring at the Great Yorkshire showground in readiness for next weeks Great Yorkshire Show.

030713 Bill Cowling the Hon Show Director of the Great Yorkshire show takes evasive action from the irrigation spray that was watering the main ring at the Great Yorkshire showground in readiness for next weeks Great Yorkshire Show.

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Crowds of thousands are to descend on Harrogate in coming days for the biggest event of the year - the Great Yorkshire Show.

More than 130,000 people are expected to attend the show over three days next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, July 9 to 11.

And with some summer sunshine predicted - and even talk of a heat wave - hopes are high for some record-breaking attendances.

“I’ve just seen a weather forecast that said ‘it will be best weather in years for the Great Yorkshire Show’,” said show director Bill Cowling, speaking to the Advertiser this week. “That made me smile.

“It’s absolutely wonderful news. It’s so great to be able to prepare for the show in normal weather.”

Every year, tens of thousands of people come to Harrogate for what has become the country’s agricultural event.

But last year, after months of wet weather and a heavy deluge on the opening day, organisers were forced to cancel the final two days of the show at a cost of around £2m.

As a result, this year’s rural showcase is more important than ever. More than half a million pounds was set aside to ‘weatherproof’ the showground, with 5,000 extra car parking spaces on land at Rudding Park Hotel.

A tractor and trailor shuttle service has been set up to deliver people to the gates, with a new bridge craned into place to cross Crimple Beck on the south side of Harrogate.

“The showground looks well, we’ve got all the extra car parking in place and extra roads down,” said Mr Cowling, confident that preparations are going well.

“The stands have started going up already and it’s a hive of activity. And all that extra preparation must have done the trick because the weather’s turned around!”

It costs around £3m each year to stage the flagship countryside event which celebrates the best of British farming and provides an insight into rural life.

Highlights will include a mock battle staged by The Yorkshire Regiment each day in the Main Ring and there will be displays by The White Helmets, The Royal Signals’ Motor Cycle Display Team.

Top class show jumping will again be on the agenda, with the prestigious Ripon Select Foods Cock o’the North Trophy as the culmination of the three days of the show.

Star guest on Thursday is to be one of the most famous racehorses in the world - Auroras Encore - who won the Grand National earlier this year and whose owner, former showjumper Harvey Smith has twice taken the Cock o’ the North trophy.

There will be demonstrations from celebrity cook Rosemary Shrager, Michelin-starred chefs and local businesses.

And as ‘shop-window’ for the farming industry, there will be hundreds of food and drink stalls in the purpose-built food hall.

A further 1,200 stands will sell everything from combine harvesters to designer clothes and demonstrations of country skills.

But for director Bill Cowling, who himself comes from a traditional farming background, the highlight will be the livestock competitions with around 5,000 animals competing for the championship prizes.

“There’s no doubt that we’ve got the best in England,” he said. “It’s a tremendous occasion. “Make sure you get here early. There’s so much going on it’s almost impossible to fit it all in.”

l Tickets can be bought on the gate at £24 for adults, £11 for children, £23 for concessions and £62 for a family. Parking is free and extensive, and free buses will run from Harrogate Railway Station. See www.greatyorkshireshow.co.uk for more information.