Now less than a week away, the Great Yorkshire Show is expecting 135,000 visitors, including its fair share of Royals, and a bumper crop of entertainment and events.
Now in its 156th year, the Great Yorkshire Show is hailed as England’s premier countryside event and this year boasts two Royal visitors who will tour the event, meeting exhibitors, visitors, and staff.
The Countess of Wessex will attend the show for the first time, making an appearance on the first day, Tuesday, July 8, with the Princess Royal in attendance the following day.
There are also other first for the event, including a ladies sheep shearing competition and the President’s Lawn will hold the BBC’s World War One at Home exhibition as part of the ongoing centenary commemorations, drawing attention to the impact of the conflict through performances and interactive sessions.
Another new addition includes a fully restored narrow gauge steam locomotive, also on the President’s Lawn, and cookery TV stars Rosemary Shrager and James Martin will present demonstrations in the Game Cookery Theatre, illustrating the ever-present importance of food at the show.
A newly-constructed sculpture, known as the Crimple Valley Oracle, will also welcome visitors to the show. Stonemason Johnny Clasper, a member of the Yorkshire Dry Stone Walling Guild, was commissioned to create the 10m long dry stone wall, made from Yorkshire limestone, which was the idea of show director Bill Cowling.
1.5m at its highest point, the oracle has a 600mm viewing ‘eye’ towards one of the showground’s main exhibition halls.
However, old favourites are still readily available, with 5,000 of Britain’s best cattle, sheep, and pigs and 2,000 horses and ponies competing for the top awards, and 1,200 trade stands will hold a wide array of products, including one of Britain’s largest cheese and dairy shows.
Mr Cowling said: “The show is a super mix of entertainment. There’s the chance to see the very best of British farming, and it’s a wonderfully sociable day out.
“The gates to our 250-acre showground open for the Great Yorkshire Show on July 8 for three action-packed days celebrating the countryside. And of course it’s the perfect setting to catch up with friends and family.
“What our Royal guests will doubtless enjoy, along with the expected 135,000 visitors over the three days, is the wide array of attractions that combine to make our show such a success.”
Perhaps as exciting as the Royal visitors is the equestrian section of the show. One of the most competitive areas, there is an extensive range of showing classes, with 1,813 entries this year, as well as the British show jumping international stairway class and the Rudding Park great Yorkshire championship.
This year, as always, people of all ages can expect tailored entertainment, from guest speakers to the Discovery Zone, where a focus on healthy living, the environment, and farming and the countryside will feature alongside cooking workshops run by University of York chef Andrew Wood who will encourage the public to roll up their sleeves and take part in the crucial relationship between farmers and food production.
Yorkshire Agricultural Society education adviser Hazel Baker said: “The discovery zone is an extremely popular area which is always very busy.
“Our aim is to give visitors a broader understanding of rural life, as well as enabling them to have a fun day out.”
The High Commander of New Zealand Sir Lockwood Smith will be guest of honour at a breakfast meeting at the show and will join two other speakers for the event, addressing the topics of world trade and opportunities for farmers.
And over at the catwalk, new designers from Harrogate College will be presenting their collections at the show’s Skipton Building Society Fashion Pavilion, where four fashion shows a day will be taking place.
From established designers to the up-and-coming students taking part, show director Bill Cowling is looking forward to this year’s runway.
“Some of the most famous names in the fashion business began their careers locally,” he said.
There will be much to learn about other skills and art forms, as visitors will be given the opportunity to learn flower arranging from the experts at the garden show in a new addition to what’s on offer with the National Association of the Flower Arrangement Society.
Organisers of the art show are promising new and old artists exhibiting their work this year, including Swaledale sheep artist Sandra Parker, whose works are included in private collections in Dubai and New Zealand.
The Art Pavilion will play host for the third time to three days of master classes run by many top artists.
Art show organiser Judy Packham said: “Over the years the art show has grown in size and popularity and is now a ‘go to’ destination in its own right.
“We have established a reputation among visitors to the show who thoroughly enjoy visiting the exhibition and meeting and talking to the artists involved.
“We have our most diverse range of art mediums this year - as well as traditional paintings we lave looked at 3D art and have attracted artists who work in bronze, stone, wood, ceramics, wire, and steel.”
And with all this going on there is still time for the hugely popular cheese makers and, of course, the animal prizes themselves.
This year a 16-year-old has been working hard to learn what is needed to impress the judges, as she will be stepping into the spotlight and showing a Charollais sheep for a Bedale farmer.
A Christmas present from her mother Deena, Nicole Sandham is prepared and dedicated and is hopeful for a victory this year.
Deena said: “She spotted some booklets about a silent auction run by the charity Farming Community Network. There were dozens of lots but the one she picked out was the chance to show a sheep at the Great Yorkshire Show.
“I remember her saying how totally amazing that would be. When she wasn’t looking I picked up a booklet and, unbeknownst to her, I made a bid and won it.”
Up at the crack of dawn on Tuesday, July 8, Nicole, who has just finished studying for her GCSEs, will join 135,000 other visitors, filled with excitement for the 156th Great Yorkshire Show.
Tickets will be available to buy on the gate and are priced at:
A full show report with images will be published in the Harrogate Advertiser Series on Thursday, July 10. Coverage online from July 8 at our website www.harrogateadvertiser.co.uk