Countryside Live: Selfies and rosettes as visitors enjoy opening day

Celebratory selfies, giant fluffy rabbits and alpacas with mohawks helped bring to life the opening day of the region's premier autumn food and farming show in Harrogate today.

Gregg Wallace was an entertaining presence as the VIP guest at Countryside Live as he cracked jokes and stopped for photographs with visitors in the show’s Food Hub.

Hosted in the showground’s new exhibition hall the food section featured a cook off between chefs Ian Rae and David Spencer of The Coachman Inn, Snainton near Scarborough with ingredients picked from the shelves of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society’s on-site farm shop Fodder.

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New to this year’s show are the rabbit classes and they attracted 669 entries.

It was a large fluffy white Angora rabbit called Margaret that was named Best in Show.

Adel Wray from Wilmslow near Manchester, who has bred rabbits for 39 years, spent two hours grooming her 5.5lbs winning specimen - as well as hair dryer treatment on show day - to prepare for her eye-catching Countryside Live debut.

In the pigeon section, Keith Robson and his wife Gill of Hurworth near Darlington, who were title winners here in 2013 and 2014, won the Best Fancy Pigeon Class with a six-month-old, homebred Chinese owl.

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Best Show Racer was a Red Cock shown by Stephen Dodgson of Cayton near Scarborough and Sam Lee, aged eight, from Ferryhill near Sedgefield won Best Young Fancier and her first ever rosette with King pigeon, Snowy.

Meanwhile, it was some delicately carved lilies made from pure beeswax that outdid all other exhibits in the honey section as Pontefract beekeeper Kath Brown won the Blue Ribbon prize for best entry.

Described as “absolutely fabulous” by show guest Gregg Wallace, Mrs Brown had spent three days crafting the pink petalled flowers.

She said: “My mum used to make birthday and wedding cakes and I used to help her out using petal paste for the decorations. I suppose this has given me some practice.”

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Retired farmer Mrs Brown operates 33 beehives at home and she also shared The Yorkshire Herald Cup for most points in the show with fellow beekeeper Graham Browster of Dewsbury.

The pair also shared The Yorkshire Post Cup for the most points in show by a member of the Yorkshire Beekeepers Association.

Mr Browster went on to be awarded the Mead Horn for his sweet-tasting fermented honey drink which MasterChef’s Wallace tried a drop of after posing for pictures with the competition winners.

Sally Fairburn of Sheriff Hutton, York won the novice class.

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A former intensive care nurse who quit her job after falling in love with alpaca breeding was among the winners at The Yorkshire Alpaca Group Show.

Featuring at Countryside Live for the first time this year, more than 100 of the long-necked animals, which originate from Peru, competed for a series of titles.

In the Colour Championship, the supreme champion Huacaya - one of two breed types at the show - was Gilt Edge Samurai.

The two-year-old working stud male, who is also known as Sam, was brought over from New Zealand by Barbara Hetherington who, in 2009, ended her nursing career to keep alpacas.

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British Alpaca Society judge, Oxfordshire-based Mary-Jo Smith, one of the country’s leading alpacas breeders, picked out the winner and remarked on how Sam had great density in his fleece which made him stand out from the competition.

Ms Hetherington, of Beck Brow Alpacas in Ainstable, Carlisle, also took the Best of British title with Sam, a championship for alpacas that are born in Britain or are of British parents.

She said: “He provides stud services and people have told me how pleased they are with him, so to have that confirmed here is a great feeling.”

Having started out with four alpacas in 2008, Ms Hetherington, who is now an alpaca breeder full-time, has a herd of 160 on her farm - 90 of which belong to her.

“They are certainly attractive,” she said.

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“They all have very individual personalities. What’s amazing is that they all stay in family groups and look after each other.”

Elsewhere and, among the other classes, judging got started in the sheep and cattle championships.

The Search for a Talented Showjumper got underway. Young riders are competing for the chance to train with former Olympians and competition judges Graham and Tina Fletcher. Aspiring young show jumpers are put through their paces over the weekend by the Fletchers, with the event culminating in a finale on the Sunday afternoon.

Countryside Live continues tomorrow, on Sunday, October 23, between 9am and 5pm. Tickets can be bought on the gates and parking is free.

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