Plans underway for “bigger and better” 107th Wensleydale Show

Sheep judging at the 2019 Wensleydale Show. Photo: Guy Carpenter.

The Wensleydale Agricultural Society says it will hold the 107th Wensleydale Agricultural Show this year, although what shape it will take will depend on covid-19 restrictions.

Organisers say the success of the 106th show, which was held online, shows what can be done in challenging circumstances.

Vice-chair Sarah Liddle said: “The committee are reflecting on last year’s success and already announcing exciting elements for this year which young and old, local and those further afield, with decades of experience in showing or complete newbies looking for a challenge can already plan and work towards.”

The society decided in June last year that a conventional show on Bank Holiday Saturday at the end of August would not be possible, but a bespoke ‘one off’ online event could still take place.

A sub-committee was formed made up of long-standing committee members Ele Acaster-Law, Alex Welch and Sarah Liddle.

“We were incredibly supported by the whole show committee and sponsors who came on board, for the entertainment factor if you haven’t seen the committee members spell out the meaning of Wensleydale Show to them then hunt it down on social media,” Sarah said.

The show said it had always been grateful for the support of local agricultural businesses and never more so than in 2020 when Bishopton Vets, Brymor Ice Cream, Norman Iveson Steel Products, Jameson’s Animal Feeds, Sam Turners, Tim Gibson Ltd, Walter Dawson Accountants, Leyburn Auction Mart, Robin Jessop, Ripon Farm Services and headline sponsor the Co-op all embraced the event by sponsoring class sections.

This enabled a monetary prize of £100 for each section champion to be awarded, with the section winners going forward to compete over show weekend for the People’s Champion, with Aysgarth Lodges awarding a three-night stay in their luxury lodge for the winner who was chosen at random from all those that voted.

With the help of web developer Nathan Briggs, of Ether, the committee created a bespoke dedicated website for the online show – where all entries and results can still be viewed at www.wensleydaleshowonline.co.uk.

All sections conventionally expected at the show were asked to come up with around half a dozen classes that lent themselves to virtual and visual judging – gone was the mainstay Victoria sandwich, young people’s handwriting and group of three cows and instead were best working vintage tractor, a novelty decorated birthday cake and the best backyard laying hen.

One particularly popular section was the new novelty section that included the sponsors special – the best agricultural or rural photograph featuring a Co-op carrier bag or logo.

There were 15 entries in that class alone, in all the 12 sections; Novelty, Horticulture, Cookery, Handicrafts, Young People, Vintage Vehicles, Horses, Poultry, Sheep, Dairy Cattle and Beef Cattle ran to a total of 66 classes with only one class having no entries – while an impressive 686 entries were received when the entries closed on the August 10 to allow the 16 expert judges to consider their placings and the entries to be displayed as well as the results loaded ready for their release on show day – August 29.

The poultry was the best supported section with 149 entries closely followed by the sheep with 135, while the most popular class was the Best Bantam with 63 entries and then the Best Ewe and Best Ram Lamb class both had over 30 entries, in fact 27 of the 60 plus classes had into double figures of entries giving our judges an unenviable task and some head scratching it appears.

Sarah added: “For a small corner of Yorkshire, the 2020 Wensleydale show online punched far above its weight, as always there was a familiar and diehard entry from locals with many regulars embracing the new show format, but entries came from as far afield as Jersey and Cornwall in cattle classes, while the pride of Wensleydale was held intact with the Section Champions being locals.

“The show even caught the imagination of local celebrities with Amanda Owen, the Yorkshire Shepherdess being a guest judge of a couple of local classes.”

Sarah said that planning for the 2021 show was underway with meetings currently being held virtually.

“Katie Collin is now settling into her new role as one of the three show secretaries, a new show website is under construction, the Wensleydale Agricultural Society Education Bursary award is undergoing a revamp and plans for the 2021 show are being crafted – uncertainty still prevails and decisions may remain outside the WAS control but for now the show is set to return to its regular venue on the Moor Road, Leyburn on August 28, 2021.

“And return it will whatever, bigger and better, the committee are now announcing a small pre schedule of unique classes created on the back of last years online show success and with three objectives in mind — the chance for people to have a challenge and focus to plan for over the coming weeks and months, the incorporation of classes into the show that will be ‘shown’ on show day to a wide audience whether that be online or on a big screen on the show field and finally a proper Wensleydale celebration of all things the show and its community represents.

“Again, these classes will be free entry with no prize money although local businesses and organisations are welcomed to sponsor prizes to help spread the word of what Yorkshire has to offer.”

The six classes so far announced for Wensleydale Agricultural Show 2021 are:

  • Wensleydale through your eyes – a video/ film/ picture compilation lasting maximum 2 minutes un-narrated that shows the public everything that is good about the region with emphasis on the role of farming and the show in the area.
  • A narrated video and featuring an under 18- with their pet or farm animals – showing their knowledge and care of the animal – max 5 minutes.
  • A picture showing a straw or silage bale/ tyre creation/ scarecrow that promotes Wensleydale Show to passers by
  • A picture/ video to show the building/ creation of a lockdown upcycling project, with explanation on the how/why/ what has been used to create it.
  • The best food from Wensleydale – a short video (max 3 minutes) showing clips from the recipe creation by the chef.
  • And back by popular demand a narrated garden or farm tour – maximum 5 minutes.

To view last year’s winners and get in touch with organisers, visit https://wensleydaleshowonline.co.uk/

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