Friday, July 11, 2008

Great Yorkshire Show 2008

An unusual post for me in that there are no flowers, vegetables, or gardens.I thought I would share some of my day. Eleven photos, this beauty is a very strokable sheep who was photogenic.

I went on the last day of the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate yesterday. It was the one hundred and fiftieth show. the show was using all of the space within the showground, so it was a good days walking miles from one end to the other, and back again. The Spring flower show used about half of the space I guess.
Me,Cat, and her sons arrived just after ten o'clock. A man on stilts with a red jacket and union jack umbrella made the crowd practise "hip hip Hurray" for the Queens arrival. I knew she was going to visit the GYS but did not know what day she was coming to see it.
Five minutes later Her Majesty the Queen drove slowly past in a Limo, followed by Prince Phillip in another car. I was awestruck after ten minutes on the showground. I have never seen the Queen except on the Tv on Christmas day..I have seen her now!
This horse was a member of the West Yorkshire police force. The mounted police had a throng of people talking to them and stroking the horses. The police horses were so placid, and attentive, as they got their noses stroked.
There was a lot of highly visible police, armed officers, and army presence due to the Royal family visiting.

One of the attractions was a Yorkshire Eye. It took the people into the air for birds eye views of the Yorkshire showground. It was also a good land mark as we tried to orientate ourself with the guidebook map.The wheel was at the north end of the show ground.

The GYS is primarily an agricultural show that shows off farm animals for competition between breeders, owners, and farmers. Cattle, Sheep,Goats,Pigs, horses, and ponys.
We started with the Poultry competition. Hundreds of pure breeds in many colours, shapes, and sizes.The judges walked about when we were there.The noise of so many Cockerals crowing was deafening!

On the side of a truck was a collection of Rams and Sheep with an Australian sheep shearer showing how it was done.I loved how he turned a black sheep onto its side, and relaxed it so the front legs were floppy when he lifted and dropped them.As the black sheep chilled he sheared away and joked on a microphone.I bet his skills are in demand wherever there are sheep farms.He can shear three hundred sheep a day!

The dog and geese. Like the British classic TV "one man and his dog" this was a small version of the sheepdog trial. The two dogs helped round the ducks and geese up from one end of the arena to the other, controlled by the ladys whistle.
The first dog was called Maisy.The lady shouted Come her Maisy to the dog, and a little four year old girl ran from the other side of the arena.The crowd shouted that little girl is called Maisy too.She heard the lady and ran to her!She said you have the same name as my dog :)
In the end the geese went into a mini pen erected out of shot. It was touch and go though as both the ducks and geese have strong minds when it comes to walking around the arena. The dog in the photo (Maisy) was so eager when she was sat tied up she looked across with ears pricked up ready to round them up.
A true working dog and an image that always reminds me of the Yorkshire Dales.The two dogs were going later this year to the one man and his dog competition. On rainy windswept hills with the pen so far away from the start that you can barely see it. Just the dog obeying the whistles and the sheep running away!The display reminded me of the James Herriot vet books.

A sheep in the enclosures down near one end of the showground. The wool on these animals was so soft. I bent over stroking one who just looked at me tiredly.These were being displayed, and had rosettes and ribbons hung proudly up on the back of the straw lined pens.It must be a day out for them, and all the pampering they get to make them beautiful for competition, before being taken to the show. A lot of hard work and love goes into all the animals we saw.

A baby Highland Cow chilling in a stall of one of the many full Cattle sheds along Stock Avenue. the adults have large horns and shaggy coats that keep them warm in the bitter Highland cold. I have seen these around Banchory in the Scottish Highlands when I was at uni. Some of the Cows were huge, and I saw later how difficult it is to lead them on a rope when they were being paraded before the judging of the various cattle classes.There were hundreds of cows and bulls tied up in the cattle sheds.

A Holstein cow with lovely eyes, for all the American readers who know about dairy farms. These looked mainly white with black spots, and looked leaner than our Fresian Cows. (I read that Holstein now means dairy cows from American stock, and Fresians means dairy cows from European stock, but they are interbred often).
Most of the milk cartons in the UK have a picture of a fresian cow chewing the grass contentedly..

The Cattle Parade from outside the main ring. Some of these cows were feisty and not at all happy at being led on a rope. Some pulled the leaders along for a walk!A chirpy announcer went through the cows names and who owned them.Some had the Ribbons around their midriffs, and rosettes on their halters.They were being judged as they walked or when they arrived.

Apart from the farm animals there were ferrets, dogs, hounds for hunting, alpacas, and these birds of prey.This Eagle looks like an American Screaming Eagle as he swooped down for the piece of meat.They displayed two Harris Hawks, a smaller Falcon, a vulture called Edith, and this eagle.I used to live near a falconry centre in Gloucestershire.These birds were so well looked after and trained beautifully.The Falcon swooped down at about a hundred miles an hour and tried to grab the moving bait.The speed and acrobatics were breathtaking.

The final photo shows one of the professional horse riders practising before the final Cock O the North showjumping event in the main arena.We watched a little of the action in the light rain. I wish they had put it on earlier as we had to leave to get back to Wakefield.The Horses here were beautiful and as well turned out as the riders.I have always liked Horses so seeing them reminded me. I will try to watch the Olympic showjumping from Beijing when its on.
Every day of the show that ran from Tuesday to Thursday was packed with events, competitions, bands, and displays. A whole plethora of organisations was there with information like the RSPB, cats protection league, the countryside alliance, national Farmers unions, etc. The Army had a spot in the showground with a kids assault course, a death slide jump, and paint gun target practise. there were over 900 stalls in the showground.
Traditional rural skills were demonstrated for the public, as well as fashion, and cooking! There was so much to see. With so many events taking place simultaneously its impossible to see it all.
I think they said 130,000 visitors go across the three days. It was packed with visitors yesterday, and blessed with dry conditions for most of the day. It was a celebration of farming, the countryside, country skills, and animals.
I loved seeing the Queen for a moment, and all the animals. It was also Cats birthday on the tenth of July! A memorable day, and not a flower in sight. I hope its a pleasant change for Snappy away from gardens and allotments!


Gardenista said...

Thanks so much for the stories and pictures. This is something I wouldn't usually get a glimpse of. I wish I could have been there!

Anonymous said...

I loved your UK fair photos, Snappy! As a US fair exhibitor from many years back, it was fun to see things on your side of the pond. Next week, my son & I will take his sheep to our county fair. And yes, it IS alot of work!
Thanks for the detailed report and grand photos.

Anonymous said...

Great photos - I particularly like the one of the sheep!
An Artists Garden

Sue Swift said...

Great day out - wish I'd been there too. But your photos are the next best thing.

David (Snappy) said...

Thanks Gardenista,Its the first time I have been to the GYS.I loved it, so will be back next year.July is also the month for Tatton Park RHS flower show.Im glad I could share it with you...
Hi Cloverann,Thanks for the kind words.Im glad it brought your memories back from years ago.I guess these kind of shows are great days out for farmers and their animals.I had read somewhere that farmers see their animal only as a product to be sold.The owners here took great care over their animals, it must be a labour of love!I hope you can take some photos of that show you are going to.To show me how similar/different is is across the pond..
Thanks Karen do you mean the opening sheep or the one sat in the pen?I did enjoy taking the photos, subjects away from what I normally photograph.I think they came out okay..
Maybe next year Sue you will get a chance to go.I definitely want to go back.