The 156th Great Yorkshire Show got under way this week, attracting thousands to the Harrogate Showground.
Thousands of stallholders sold and advertised their wares, animals were prepared for their place in the spotlight, and royal visitors the Countess of Wessex and the Princess Royal, added a bit of glamour to the proceedings.
And as excitement for the three days was building among the many visitors on their way, behind the scenes it was a hive of activity, with staff, stewards, and volunteers putting together the final touches to make 2014 a very special year.
Honorary show director Bill Cowling was especially busy, riding around in his golf buggy and making sure everything is running smoothy.
“At this time it is an absolute hive of activity, and you tend to think it can’t possibly be finished in time, but of course it will,” he said.
“I usually get here some time after 6am, as most other stewards will. We always start the day with a short church service on the bandstand, and that is a nice way to start and to set us in the right mood.
“The first day is exciting anyway, but this has added excitement because the Countess of Wessex hasn’t been before and it is a huge honour, not just for the Great Yorkshire Show, but also for the entire Harrogate district.”
Though the rain on Tuesday afternoon saw some visitors leave early, the sun was shining again the following day and the show once more put on a fine display.
In 2012, heavy rain forced the show to be cancelled as car parks became too muddy for cars to use safely.
The following year, precautionary measures were in place in case of further poor weather, with more than £500,000 invested in a 20 per cent increase in parking capacity and new drains and crushed stone roads within the car parks.
Yorkshire Agricultural Society chief executive Nigel Pulling said these improvements are always in place and the he was confident for the 2014 Great Yorkshire Show.
He said: “The measures we installed two years ago are permanently in place. It is mostly new crushed stone roads and new drainage, but there was never any chance of a repeat because it had been so dry in the build up.
“The roads we put in will have been well used today because we will have parked 15,000 plus cars. We are much better equipped now to cope with such weather.
“On an operational note I think the first day went pretty well, though I haven’t had reports from everybody yet. It is a bit early to say how many people there were here, but it was pretty busy.”
The Princess Royal visited on the second day, taking in the sites and sounds of the Great Yorkshire Show which she last visited in 2010.
And there were other special guests, including celebrity chefs James Martin and Rosemary Shrager who headlined cookery demos in the Game Cookery Theatre.
The show also welcomed author Amanda Owen who launched her book The Yorkshire Sheperdess.
From the food hall to the discovery zone, the garden room to the enormous outdoor space, the many visitors have been eager for the show’s return in 2014.
Right across the country and spanning generations, the show is as popular now as ever before.
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