Posted: 5/28/2010


      There isn't a more idyllic setting for the 201st OTLEY SHOW, and with the sun shining it was a pleasant 10 minute walk from the bus station past Wiggamanns with the best pork pies anywhere on earth, and the best Cornish pasties outside that splendid county, past the statue of local boy Thomas Chippendale, the furniture maker, and across the River Wharfe and all the swans and geese and flower arrangements to the show grounds.

      The show has been going strong since the first one in 1796 with only a few cancellations due to wars and floods. 15,000 people would show up this day to see the cattle, sheep, horses, goats, poultry and more being judged in the pens and the judging rings. As a backdrop we have the beautiful mountain, or at least a large hilly area called The Chevin.

     I had only the morning to spend there, since there were some serious football matches at Wembley and The Bernabaeu later in the day. They had the Otley Brass Band playing 'On Ilkley Moor 'ba Tat' the national anthem of Yorkshire (On Ilkley Moor without a hat!), and other tunes, tents full of local produce such as meats, fish, cheeses, jams and honeys, breads, cakes, flowers, paintings and pottery. Ben Potter had his Birds of Prey demonstration, and there was show jumping and more.

     The sheep are my favourite and it was nice to see a dozen or more breeds close up, instead of me having to chase after them all over the Yorkshire Dales. There were Half Breed Masham, Ivanhoe Belen, Poll Dorsets, Swaledales, Oxford Dunns, Blue Faced Leicesters, Blue Texels, Broomscrofts and my favourites, the long haired Wensleydales. This breed has lovely long hair and the champion that day with its rosettes stuck to its pen was with her breeder, Yvonne Mudd from Knaresborough, near Harrogate. They had won the Overall Best Fleeced Sheep award, the Ryder Memorial Cup. She lifted the sheep up to show me along with the certificate(see my Facebook photos).

    I also talked with Farmer Jacobs and his prize Swaledale which had also won an award. In the main ring the Airdale Beagles were answering to the tally-ho of their master with his bugle, resplendeant in a pink coat(actually bright red but they refer to it as hunting pink for some reason.  This pack used to hunt hares by scent not sight, and their master and followers chase after them on foot not on horseback. Since the Cruel Sports Act of recent years they now chase after a scented mock hare.

    Lucy was a mare with a young six month old foal and was being judged and was well groomed with tassles in her mane. She had come up from Kidderminster in Worcester with her handlers, who were sunning themselves in deckchairs with a cold ale or two. The supreme dairy cow was a Jersey from Ormskirk, and Butchers Lambs award was won by lambs from Bedale, sadly due to be lamb chops soon!!

    In the next field there were screams of delight from the children and their handlers on the swings, roundabouts and throwing soft balls at cans to win prizes between licking ice cream, ice lollies and candy corn and fish & chips and pies. The Otley Show is the first such event of the summer, to be followed by many more in the weekends ahaed.