An all-time record number of beef cattle and the guest appearance of MasterChef presenter Gregg Wallace is set to make autumn’s premier agricultural show in Harrogate one of the biggest instalments yet.
Held by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, Countryside Live is expected to attract around 12,000 people to the Great Yorkshire Showground over the weekend of October 22-23 for what is a record-breaking 14th year.
As well as 201 prime, commercial beef cattle for what is one of the early season fatstock shows, the overall entry figure across all competition classes is at a record high of 3,206.
New features have been added including the Yorkshire Alpaca Group Show featuring more than 100 animals and the final of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust’s Young Shepherd of the Year competition.
For show director Charles Mills, the latter fits in with his own priorities at the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.
“I’m delighted to bring the young shepherd competition here because it brings more focus on youth to the show,” he said.
We want people to know what is happening in the countryside.Charles Mills, show director of Countryside Live
“And it is pleasing to see that among the entries of cattle there are more young people coming to show.”
It will be the first time the event has been hosted, in part, in the showground’s huge, new £11m exhibition hall.
Mr Mills said: “It’s a super buildings and it is allowing us to have this food theme, with Gregg Wallace coming along to our Food Hub. It will be the first time we have had a cookery theatre at Countryside Live. We are trying to expand on what we are doing.”
Wallace will be picking out fresh produce from the shelves of Fodder, the society’s farm shop and cafe on the showground, and will be challenging chefs to use them as ingredients in a competitive “cook-off”.
Trade stands serving samples of, and selling, British food and drink will be located in the exhibition hall where there will also be beer and cheese tastings with visitors encouraged to pair tipple with cheesy bites.
The show director is a former chief cattle steward at the Great Yorkshire Show and Mr Mills expects one of his show highlights to be the action in the beef cattle classes.
“We have record numbers and so the classes will be held in a bigger marquee with a better viewing platform,” said Mr Mills, who farms at Appleton Roebuck, York.
“It’s been a good grazing summer so I expect to see some of the best cattle to come out of the North of England, if not from further afield.”
Judging in the cattle and sheep rings begins on the Saturday morning and culminates in the championships on the Sunday.
Equestrian competitions are a big part of the event too and the Search for a Talented Showjumper returns in which former Olympians Graham and Tina Fletcher run the rule of young riders.
Another key feature is the Northern Show Cross Finals which complements a range of other classes including for coloured horses and ponies and Mountain and Moorland classes.
Rabbit classes feature for the first time, while judges will also be tasked with picking winning pigeons, poultry, honey and vegetables.
Mr Mills said: “We want people to know about what is happening in the countryside, from all the breweries that are springing up to all the local cheeses that have been produced in the last few years - there are so many products made by people who care passionately about what they do.
“I hope the families that come along have a very exciting day. There is so much to see that goes on in the countryside - not just direct agriculture but things supporting agriculture.”
BEST YOUNG SHEPHERD
Countryside Live will be the first time the final of the Young Shepherd of the Year competition has been held in the north of England.
Taking place for the sixth year, it is the culmination of heats held at 20 shows across the country over the last six months.
Some 139 entries have been received with 18 different sheep breeds represented.
Ruth Dalton, northern field officer for organisers, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, said: “We’re delighted to bring this to Countryside Live. We have entries coming from across the country and have had wonderful support from the Trust’s York based volunteer group.”