Masham Sheep Fair returns this weekend for another glorious celebration of the town’s rich sheep trading heritage.
A proud tradition for more than 30 years, visitors from across the region and the country will enjoy an action-packed programme honouring Masham’s history of selling more than 70,000 sheep each year.
The hugely popular community event has however attracted some controversy this year, with animal rights activists campaigning to remove the sheep racing element from the proceedings, launching a petition.
Nick Reed, who works for the Masham Town Hall Community Charity, said the sheep fair, is a hugely important event for Masham that equals the steam rally in putting the town on the map and showcasing everything that the community has to offer.
Mr Reed said: “Everybody contributes to making the event work.
“I have lived in Masham for six years, and I love it here. I also know people who have lived here all their lives or have been here a lot longer than me who think the sheep fair is a great chance to celebrate the town, and they’re very proud of it.
“It helps the town to thrive in difficult times.”
Saturday and Sunday will boast a feast of attractions to appeal to visitors across all age groups in an extraordinary effort by the whole community, spearheaded by organiser Susan Cunliffe-Lister.
With the sheep show, sheepdog demonstrations, tours of the Theakston’s and Black Sheep Brewery, a flower festival at St Mary’s Church, and a harvest display in the Methodist Chapel, the fair aims to build on decades of tradition and showcase the charm of the town.
The Bishop Blaize procession from Maple Creek to the Market Square is also sure to be a highlight.
Mr Reed said: “I think the main attraction is always the market place full of sheep, people looking at the best in show and all the other classes.
“There is plenty going on and plenty for people to see and do.”
Every year the Masham Sheep Fair raises a remarkable amount of money for local charities, thanks to the hard work by all the organisers and volunteers involved.
This year the funds raised will go to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance charity and the Friarage MRI Scanner Appeal.