STUNNING weather more than made up for the absence of a royal visitor as thousands of people lapped up sunshine on the first day of the 158th Great Yorkshire Show.
Inevitable traffic jams aside, organisers the Yorkshire Agricultural Society couldn’t have asked for a better start to the show - England’s premier agricultural event.
It is unusual for the show to pass without a royal visit, but there was more than enough for the teeming crowds to get involved in when gates opened on Tuesday morning.
The day included a mix of competitive classes for the country’s finest animals, more than 1,300 businesses selling everything from Bentleys to garden shears, and a packed programmes of entertainment.
Display teams and bands mixed with demonstrations, sheep shearing competitions and, of course, a timetable of classification events.
On the President’s Lawn, the prestigious Yorkshire Post Farmer of the Year awards were announced, with winner Jeremy Holmes receiving his awards from Julia Rangecroft of Mills and Reeve.
Rebecca Burniston and Will Terry were named runners up.
A record number of people voted in Welcome to Yorkshire’s Favourite Pub competition this year.
West Tanfield’s The Bull Inn was crowned the winner at the show, owner Gil Richardson accepting the award from cricket legened Geoffrey Boycott and Yorkshire Rows Janette Benaddi and Helen Butters.
Mr Boycott was attending his very first Great Yorkshire Show, as the guest of Welcome to Yorkshire’s Chief Executive, Sir Gary Verity.
Mr Boycott discussed Yorkshire’s chances of securing an historic treble this year.
Asked about the team’s chances, he said: “We might. We’ve got a lot of players playing for England, and that’s going to be a handicap.
“It’s necessary to play for your country when you are picked.
“They’ll be up there but it’s not quite so sure this year.”
Fashion has become a major part of the show, and this year, in a coup for the show’s catwalk event, which plays four times each day to packed audiences, world-renowned countrywear specialists Cordings of Piccadilly made its Great Yorkshire debut, launching its autumn/winter men’s and womenswear ranges which feature cloths woven in Yorkshire mills.
Taking place less than a month after the UK voted to leave the European Union, conversation at the show was always going to turn to Brexit.
Indeed, theleader of Britain’s farmers used the Great Yorkshire Show to make a post-Brexit plea for support to incoming prime minister Theresa May.
Meurig Raymond, president of the National Farmers’ Union, warned against “opening the floodgates” to a cheap trade deal which he said could lead to a fall in food standards.
Mr Raymond said: “My plea to government is, do not open the floodgates to a cheap free trade deal into the UK where we could import fodder produced below the standards expected by British consumers.”
Early on Tuesday, it was revealed that one in 10 dairy farms in England and Wales have closed in the last three years.
The number of farms has fallen by 1,000 since June 2013, the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) said.
Among those who are set to benefit is Roger Hildreth, whose family has farmed at Hessay, near York, since 1887.
Mr Hildreth, who runs a 180-acre farm with 170 dairy cattle, now gets 19p for a litre of milk, compared to as much as 34p only two years ago.
He said: “The volatility of the market now is enormous, we are at the mercy of global demand which has fallen while milk production has increased.
“It has been very difficult times for the dairy industry, and when I tell people how much we get for a litre of milk these days, they are left literally open-mouthed.
“This is a fantastic step by Asda, and while supermarkets are often much maligned, this gives consumers the chance to support dairy farmers by paying that little bit extra for their milk.”
The weather is set fair for a dry second day.
Day two of the three-day event is traditionally the busiest, with the start of the Cock o’ the North show jumping competition among the attractions.
Day two also sees the judging of foxhounds and the Dairy Young Handlers competition, as well as the Pig Supreme Championship.
The Met Office website reports: “A dry start with some good sunny spells, but cloud will bubble up to give scattered showers in the afternoon, some of which may be heavy later in the day. Maximum Temperature 18 °C, while there are sunny intervals and a few showers on Thursday.”