Rain doesn’t spoil Masham Sheep Fair

Molly Dougherty and her sheep line up to be judged.  (12093023AM)
Molly Dougherty and her sheep line up to be judged. (12093023AM)
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Thousands of people have flocked to Masham for its historic sheep fair which featured an action-packed schedule of sheepdog demonstrations, morris dancing, handbell ringing and band marching.

Despite the deluge of rain that shocked the town last week, organisers pressed ahead and hosted a knockout event with more than 3,500 visitors on Saturday and Sunday, September 29 - 30.

Organisers enlisted the help of a local farmer who offered the use of his car parking spaces, a rare spot that had not been affected by the torrential rainfall last week.

“A really kind farmer allowed us to use his car park,” said organiser Susan Cunliffe-Lister.

“We’ve had emails all week from people asking whether we would still be going ahead with the fair. We were thinking on Tuesday that we wouldn’t be able to use our car park.”

She added: “The public were great and Saturday was actually a lovely day.”

The fair – the 27th instalment of the the event – featured sheep racing and trips for the public around Masham’s renowned breweries, Theakston’s and Black Sheep.

Throughout the weekend visitors enjoyed a floral display at St Mary’s Church with the theme of ‘A Material Harvest’.

A craft market and fleece stalls were also set up on Masham’s market square, famous for its sheep sales where in the past as many as 70,000 of the animals were sold each year.

Bands also marched alongside the Bishop Blaize procession which commemorates the patron saint of woolcombers.

Breeds on show throughout the weekend included Masham, Mule, Swaledale, Dalesbred, Blue Faced Leicester, Teeswater, Wensleydale, Jacob, Texel, Suffolk, Oxford Down, Charollais and Beltex.

Proceeds went to Farm Crisis Network and Mowbray Special School Farm with small donations going to Ivy Workshops and Leukaemia and Lymphoma research.

Mrs Cunliffe-Lister said: “Farm Crisis Network have always come along and set up a stall with us and Mowbray Special School Farm have always come to help us at the fair.

“We thought it would be nice to give something back and support local charities.”