Ministers urged not to block education at Great Yorkshire Show

York farmer Charles Mills is gearing up for his second Great Yorkshire Show as show director.  Picture by Simon Hulme.
York farmer Charles Mills is gearing up for his second Great Yorkshire Show as show director. Picture by Simon Hulme.

Government ministers will be invited to this summer’s Great Yorkshire Show to witness first-hand its educational merits, in a move prompted by concerns that schoolchildren will be denied opportunities to visit the event.

Show director Charles Mills said the Yorkshire Agricultural Society will be writing to the Department for Education to invite representatives to attend the 159th show.

Around 8,500 animals are expected to be lined up for the judges at this summer's 159th show.

Around 8,500 animals are expected to be lined up for the judges at this summer's 159th show.

It follows last week’s supreme court ruling to uphold the ban on parents taking children out of school for family holidays during term time. The Government toughened its stance four years ago and said schools should only approve absences in exceptional circumstances.

York farmer Mr Mills said: “People are still uncertain about what they can and can’t do. The Great Yorkshire Show is an educational event and it should qualify in every school for children to have time off to come here and not be penalised.”

As well as education ministers, officials from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will, as usual, be invited to attend the show, which takes place this year on July 11-13.

All agricultural shows currently face the prospect of losing their poultry sections. A ban on poultry fairs and gatherings remains in place under government restrictions to tackle avian flu.

People are still uncertain about what they can and can’t do.

Charles Mills, show director at the Yorkshire Agricultural Society

As reported in The Yorkshire Post yesterday, all poultry in England are now allowed outside following a new assessment of the risk they could catch bird flu from wild birds. The Government is keeping its remaining restrictions under review.

More than 1,000 poultry entries were put forward for last year’s Great Yorkshire Show.

Mr Mills said: “We can only do what we’re allowed to and we are staying in close communication with Defra and the NFU (National Farmers’ Union). We will work with the rules we are given but it would be very disappointing not to have poultry at the show.”

The show line up has plenty to entice visitors, the show director said, not least performances from East Yorkshire-based Atkinson Action Horses in the main ring.

Atkinson Action Horses, which team have appeared on hit TV shows including Poldark, Victoria and Peaky Blinders, will perform in the showground's main ring.  Picture by Gary Longbottom.

Atkinson Action Horses, which team have appeared on hit TV shows including Poldark, Victoria and Peaky Blinders, will perform in the showground's main ring. Picture by Gary Longbottom.

“It’s great to have someone from Yorkshire in the main ring and that’s something that influenced us,” Mr Mills said. “I’m looking forward to seeing them. They’re very enthusiastic.”

The showground’s rebuilt exhibition hall, which opened ahead of the 2016 show, will showcase food and drink, with street food set to be a new feature, both in the hall and around the show fields.

New drainage work will be undertaken at a car park after the Harrogate Spring Flower Show is held at the showground on April 20-23, Mr Mills said, but “relatively kind” winter weather means the showground is looking “very good” with just three months to go before the country’s premier agricultural show returns.

Other new features at the 159th Great Yorkshire Show will include:

Equestrian entrants will benefit from a new collecting ring at the showground when the show returns on July 11-13.  Picture by Tony Johnson.

Equestrian entrants will benefit from a new collecting ring at the showground when the show returns on July 11-13. Picture by Tony Johnson.

A newly revamped equine collecting ring, courtesy of a £70,000 investment to improve conditions under the direction of former Olympic show jumper Graham Fletcher;

RAF Falcons will perform a parachute display for the first time;

Fordson is celebrating its 100-year anniversary and a range of agricultural machinery spanning the years from 1917 will be on display on the President’s Lawn;

In the livestock section, the Charolais Cattle Society will hold its summer national show, with 75 head of cattle expected to take part.