By Betsy Everett
The 101st Moorcock show, probably the oldest of its kind in the Dales, took place at the weekend, keeping its reputation for tradition and innovation.
Traditional because, after more than a century, sheep are still coralled into pens, wrestled with, judged, and their handlers awarded rosettes: innovative because each year the show moves on.
This year the pink-hued Herdwicks were the new kids on the block, introduced at the request of breeder and sponsor, Frank Brennand. The pinky-red dye is actually iron ore, says sheep section secretary Megan Pedley, applied to make them identifiable in the high hills of the Lake District, their native territory.
The story continues after the adverts:
Young farmers with “Please ask me if you want to know anything about sheep” emblazoned on their hi-viz vests, looked likely candidates for a daft question: but then you had to wonder why anybody would be here if they didn’t already know everything there was to know about sheep. It would have been a braveheart indeed who asked if that pink dye was cosmetic . . .
Show secretary Colin Luckett himself had the look of a dyed-in-the-wool sheep farmer but turned out to be a retired solicitor who came to the Dales 15 years ago with his wife, Maggie, and has, as they say, never looked back.
He has looked forward, though, and made it his mission to fashion the show, already a favourite with farmers in the area, as a family day out as well, with children’s activities galore for those who were not down to the serious business of showing their sheep, some of them nearly as big as themselves, and lots of local stallholders selling their wares.
“Farming can be a very isolating occupation and this is a great opportunity for farmers to meet each other and chat and it’s become a really good day out for families as well. It’s a very popular show, but it’s not just about sheep, important as they are, it’s about the community coming together,” said Colin.
With Pauline and Bill Hasted from Aysgill, he has expanded interest and involvement in the show by inviting local crafts people to exhibit: three years ago, he said, there were five tables in the barn at Mossdale. This year there were more than 20 exhibitors, selling everything from home-made jams and chutneys, to cushions, paintings and pottery.
Numbers are holding up well and despite a multitude of attractions in the Dales, the traditional agricultural show seems as popular as ever. “It’s not a big show, but it’s an important one,” was how one steward described it.
It was easy to see how the hardy Herdwicks became the model for Herdy, the solid, rounded sheep which is the trademark product of the Keswick-based gift ware company with a branch in Hawes, and whose retail manager, Giovanna Gagliazzo was one of the twenty stall holders at the show.
There were 350 sheep, 500 entries in the various classes, which included tractors and farm machinery as well as sheep – and a tiny visitor spotted in the grass by show president, Richmondshire MP Rishi Sunak. Nobody could be entirely sure whether it was a shrew or a mouse but it certainly looked vulnerable as it made its way towards the tea tent.
Rishi, meanwhile, headed for Gillian Harrison’s Wensleydale Ice Cream stall, more, one suspected, to show solidarity with the business than to sample the product, tempting though it looked, on a chilly and overcast day.
With a bone-handled shepherd’s crook and a cheerful smile, he spent the whole of the afternoon chatting to competitors, judges and stallholders before presenting trophies and certificates to the winners.
“You’ve got to hand it to him. He’s been here for hours looking round and talking to everybody. He does take a real interest,” said one local farmer.
Results follow after the pictures.
Results: (full list here moorcock show results )
Young Handlers: Ten years and under, Junior Handlers Cup, Emma Pedley. Eleven-16years,The Crown Cup, Aaron Troughton. Swaledales: Aged ram, Jim and Alice Scarr Memorial Cup, M and S Sunter. Tup shearling, Arthur and Betty Sowerby Memorial Cup, PE and KA Sowerby. Tup lamb and gimmer lamb, J Richardson Cup, P Ewbank. Tup shearling and gimmer shearling, Mossdale Trophy, PE and KA Sowerby. Champion tup lamb, The Youngs Challenge Cup, P Ewbank. Local champion small breeder, The Fountain Cup, M and S Sunter. Champion small breeder, W Akrigg Tankard, SL Pratt. Local champion, Hawes Auction Mart Cup J and SJ Bland. Champion Swaledale, HRH Prince of Wales Perpetual Trophy, SL Pratt. Rough Fells: Ram lamb, W Dawson and Son Cup, J Hunter. Champion GM Sedgwick Cup F and L Hoggarth. Blue Faced Leicesters: Champion, Barclays Bank Cup, JC and E Pedley & Sons. Mules: Pen of five, Dale Head Garage Rose Bowl, BD and A Horner. Champion single mule gimmer lamb, Jim Pedley Trophy, JC and E Pedley & Sons. Texels: Tup lamb, E and H Winder Perpetual Shield, JC and E Pedley & Sons. Pedley Perpetual Cup for most points in the group classes, N Waggett. Champion, Moorcock Trophy G Pedley. Herdwicks: Champion, A&M Brennand and Sons Cup, B Dickinson and Co. Champion pair of gimmer lambs, Elizabeth Pedley Memorial Trophy, Texel, N Waggett, reserve Herdwick, D and J Wilson. Supreme Sheep Champion, Eden Farms Supplies Trophy, Blue Faced Leicester, JC and E Pedley & Sons, reserve – Texel, G Pedley. Vintage tractors and machinery: Tractor pre-1952, T Routh (Fordson Major P6 1951). Tractor 1952-1975, C Longstaff (Massey Ferguson 35X 1963). Machinery and Best in Show RG Alderson (Massey Ferguson Mower 732).