Flying the flag for all things British at Great Yorkshire Show: how the annual spectacular entertained near record visitor numbers

I walked 16,000 steps in six hours and still couldn’t fit in all of the Great Yorkshire Show.

Monday, 15th July 2019, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 3:12 pm
Great Yorkshire Show 2019. Parade of hounds and beagles in the Main Ring. 11th July 2019. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

Despite being a frequent visitor to Yorkshire and this being the 161st Great Yorkshire Show, this was my first time visiting its iconic, annual event in Harrogate which is organised by charity Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

Spanning three days and 250 acres, housing 1,200 trade stands and over 2,000 competitions, it’s grown like a mighty oak since it began in 1838 as an exhibition of farming stock to become one of the biggest - and arguably the finest - showcase of farming, food and countryside activities in the country.

All creatures great and small feature at the show, more than 8,000 in fact, from busy bees in hives to huge Highland Cattle in this celebration of country life.

Near record breaking crowds for 161st Great Yorkshire Show

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This year saw the biggest visitor numbers in a decade – just short of its all time record - and there was plenty to keep the 135,095 attendees entertained. For many it’s a chance to see what goes on behind the farm gates, from the buzz of sheep shearing contests to feeling the heat of horse shoeing and marvelling at the speed of the tree climbers as they scaled trunks in the Forestry Display Arena.

And for those who work in the agricultural industry it’s a chance to showcase the fruits of their labour and vie for titles such as the prestigious Cock O’ The North showjumping award, which was won by Richard Howley, while elsewhere in the judging rings, thousands of animals, big and small, competed in their class.

For all it’s a chance to connect with the countryside in a fun, yet educational, way.

The Great Yorkshire Show is far more than farming too: food, fashions and vehicles inspired by rural life are also showcased in shopping stands.

11 July 2019...... Great Yorkshire Show Day 3. The Bolddog Lings FMX motorcycle team stun the crowds at the Great Yorkshire Show. Picture Tony Johnson.

Quintessential British brands such as Fairfax and Favor were there selling their luxury footwear and luggage while British motoring icon Land Rover sold its classic model alongside its latest 4X4.

Meanwhile, foodies had the chance to whet their appetites in the giant food hall housing every British cheese you can think of as well as pies, pork scratchings and much much more.

One day just wasn’t enough to fit in this slice of Britain at its best and, despite donning comfortable shoes, we still didn’t get to see the blooming lovely garden show or the bleating of Goat World. Next year, we’ll be well armed for three days of this foray into farming at its finest.

Great Yorkshire Show 2019. Wetherby based rider Richard Howley wins the Ripon Select Foods Cock O'The North Championship on Chinook. 11th July 2019. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
11 July 2019...... Great Yorkshire Show Day 3. Farming minister Robert Goodwill speaks with Graham Smith by the Lely robotic milking machine at the Great Yorkshire Show. Picture Tony Johnson.
Great Yorkshire Show 2019. Parade of hounds and beagles in the Main Ring. 11th July 2019. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
11 July 2019...... Great Yorkshire Show Day 3. General view of the visitors on the Presidents Lawn, the bandstand and the cattle parade in the main ring at the Great Yorkshire Show. Picture Tony Johnson.