Countryside Live: Education and entertainment on offer

Date:18th October 2104, Picture James Hardisty, (JH1005/71u). Countryside Live event held at the Great Yorkshire Ground, Harrogate. Pictured Olivia McInnes, aged 5, from East Yorkshire, combing down a Limousin Cross Belgian Blue calf.

Date:18th October 2104, Picture James Hardisty, (JH1005/71u). Countryside Live event held at the Great Yorkshire Ground, Harrogate. Pictured Olivia McInnes, aged 5, from East Yorkshire, combing down a Limousin Cross Belgian Blue calf.

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“We like to get families in to Countryside Live and give them a great day out, entertaining them but also educating them a little bit.”

This was the way Nigel Pulling, Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, described the ethos behind the ever popular event.

Countryside Live boasted a vast array of classes for sheep and cattle and proved why farmers and exhibitors believe it sets the standard for the winter fatstock shows.

Despite this competitive side, the overriding atmosphere emanating from the weekend was the ‘fun for all the family’ element of the show.

As exhibitors brought their prized possessions for inspection, including sheep, cattle, pigeons and pigs, children raced around the Great Yorkshire Showground enjoying the ‘hands-on’ approach to agriculture.

Parents watched on as their children learned vital lessons about farming and animals and, Mr Pulling said, that is a ‘big aspect’ of what Countryside Live is about.

He said: “One of the key points of the weekend is to teach people what farmers do and their impact on managing the countryside.

“Sometimes people underestimate their reliance on farmers so we have to remind them how their food gets there and that it doesn’t just appear in the supermarket.

“Farmers do such a great job in this country so it’s important that we understand and support them.

“But it’s not a hard sell because it’s very entertaining. We have tried to develop that family element by introducing things like Diggerland and the pony rides.”

Despite being dubbed the ‘little sister’ to the Great Yorkshire Show, Countryside Live attracted 12,215 visitors through its gates over the weekend.

That figure was slightly down on last year’s record-breaking 12,689 but families were still treated to firm favourites and new additions of displays and demonstrations over the weekend.

“Some people almost find the Great Yorkshire show too big and that takes place over the week while ours is at a weekend so families don’t have to take time off,” Mr Pulling explained.

“It’s more manageable because it’s in a much smaller space. We have evolved over the 12 years though and the show has got a lot bigger in terms of categories.”

“At first we didn’t have any horses at all, they only came along after three or four years, The Farriery has also gone down really well and that’s the product of a quarter of a million pound investment.

“One of the biggest elements is the show cross in the main ring which gets a big crowd and about 70 teams competing so that’s a big step forward.

“We all thoroughly enjoyed it again this year and we’re just trying to catch our breath now. Everyone I spoke to was very positive about it and we will be hoping to do exactly the same next year.”

Mr Pulling confirmed next year’s Countryside Live will be a ‘transitional year’ as Exhibition Hall 1, home to the event’s main ring, will be torn down.

He said: “We have permission to put a new hall there which will permit a 20 per cent increase in size from the current hall but it won’t be ready for 2015.

“We have planning permission for a temporary structure this year but in two year’s time we expect the new hall to help us move forward

“It’s a massive project and an awful lot of planning but it will bring us into the modern age. We will be able to do different things and to a higher standard”