Booming livestock entries prove relevance of Otley Show in its 210th year

There were 290 entries of cattle at the 210th Otley Show. Picture by Simon Hulme.
There were 290 entries of cattle at the 210th Otley Show. Picture by Simon Hulme.

It may be the oldest event of its kind in the country, but Otley Show proved that the one-day agricultural show format is far from tired as it enjoyed a huge bump in entries at its 210th instalment.

Across all classes, entries bloomed to nearly 3,000 in total; a four-year high and an uplift that reflects the countryside show’s continuing relevance as well as the mild winter weather.

James Danforth and his British Charollais ewe took the Supreme Sheep Championship at the 2019 Otley Show. Picture by Ben Barnett.

James Danforth and his British Charollais ewe took the Supreme Sheep Championship at the 2019 Otley Show. Picture by Ben Barnett.

Following gentle winter and spring conditions that were in stark contrast to Beast from the East blighted run up to last year’s show season opener, some 507 sheep were presented for judging on Saturday.

Nicholas Houseman, sheep section chairman at Otley, said he could not recall a higher figure in the show’s modern history.

“We’ve had a very good winter, the grass has never stopped growing and all the sheep are in good condition. With the showing job, that’s a big help,” he said.

An extra line of sheep pens was needed to accommodate all the entries and a new Kerry Hill class was added.

Everingham Judy and its calf Everingham Prince, homebred British Blondes, won the supreme beef title for Neil Barrett of Everingham near Pocklington and his nephew Harry Benison.Picture by Ben Barnett.

Everingham Judy and its calf Everingham Prince, homebred British Blondes, won the supreme beef title for Neil Barrett of Everingham near Pocklington and his nephew Harry Benison.Picture by Ben Barnett.

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Taking top honours was James Danforth, 20, whose family farms near Wetherby. He clinched the supreme sheep title on his first ever visit to the show with a homebred, one-crop British Charollais ewe.

“It’s quite a shock. I’m very pleased,” he said, having pipped last year’s winner, Kevin Wilson of Blubberhouses with a Dalesbred into reserve.

There was a record 30 entries in the young shepherd and shepherdess classes and in the under-nines classes not everything went exactly to plan. One young shepherd happily dispatched his flat cap to the floor and abandoned his lamb to jump off a stack of hay at the side of the ring. His sheep ended up donning the flat cap, much to the amusement of spectators.

Cattle entries were the highest - 290 - since the show moved from inside the town’s old auction mart, said section chairman Frank Broadhead.

Otley Show's 2019 supreme dairy champion, a Holstein called Newbirks Blueblood 927 shown by Suzy Lawson, pictured with partner Wayne Stead and son Elijah Stead aged six. Picture by Simon Hulme.

Otley Show's 2019 supreme dairy champion, a Holstein called Newbirks Blueblood 927 shown by Suzy Lawson, pictured with partner Wayne Stead and son Elijah Stead aged six. Picture by Simon Hulme.

“It’s an absolutely excellent show of cattle, we’re at full capacity,” he said. “The Herefords out number any other classes. At the moment it’s a very popular breed. It’s come full circle, people now want more traditional meat. It’s something that commands a premium in the meat trade for farmers.”

MORE: SIX OF THE BEST PICTURES FROM OTLEY SHOW
Everingham Judy and its calf Everingham Prince, homebred British Blondes, won the supreme beef title for Neil Barrett of Everingham near Pocklington and his nephew Harry Benison.

“I’ve never had one like Everingham Judy before,” Mr Barrett said of the pedigree cow which picked up where it left off on the show circuit last year when it was undefeated in its breed class.

Reserve champion, Tomschoice Oblivion, a Limousin belonging to Dacre’s Jamie and Sarah Cooper, was being shown for only the second time.

Adrian Graham feeds one of his giant Aldabra tortoises at Otley Show. Picture by Simon Hulme.

Adrian Graham feeds one of his giant Aldabra tortoises at Otley Show. Picture by Simon Hulme.

Suzy Lawson, 25, of Arthington-based A Lawson and Son, repeated her 2018 success by winning the supreme dairy championship, this time with homebred four-year-old Holstein, Newbirks Blueblood 927, sired by De-Su Bookem. A shorthorn shown by Dewsbury’s IRG Collins and Partners was the reserve champion.

A star attraction in the main ring was equine displays by Atkinson Action Horses, which have featured on TV in series such as Poldark and Peaky Blinders and saw the outfit’s leader Ben Atkinson enter the ring leading four horses by the reins while standing with one foot on each of the rear pair.

Ben Potter’s birds of prey displays also drew crowds, while some giant Aldabra tortoises attracted curiosity.

The weather remained dry and mild as show secretary Janet Raw bowed out after 25 years. After she oversaw the cattle trophy presentation in the main ring, the show commentator paid tribute to her efforts, telling the crowds “she will be sorely missed”.

Mrs Raw said: “The show wouldn’t go on without all the stewards - I can’t thank them all enough. I’m glad to have finished on a good year. We’ve had good crowds and we’ve been lucky with the weather.”