Julia got up close and personal with a couple of new friends from Beacon Alpacas with help from Show Director Charles Mills, left, and Peter Wright, the Yorkshire Vet.
Excitement ran high on the morning of 19 October as Countryside Live opened its gates in Harrogate for families to pour through looking for a great day out – and they got one! Julia was headlining the two-day event, organised by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, for the first time and Yorkshire Shepherdess Amanda Owen and Peter Wright from The Yorkshire Vet made a welcome return.
With more activities for children than ever before and all free once inside, there was plenty of time for them to explore the fun, including a ninja assault course, bicycle confidence-building, mini-diggers, a climbing wall and ride-on tractors as well a host of other creative and interactive opportunities. Most of the show is under cover in halls and marquees so the weather wasn’t an issue. Happily, the rain held off.
It began with Julia opening the Fodder Garden – a series of sculptures made by Emma Stothard to celebrate ten years since the famous farm shop café opened. Julia was also presented with a wreath made of leftover Great Yorkshire Show wristbands made by volunteers from the Cone Exchange. Set up in 2003, the Cone Exchange is the flagship community recycling project for the famous Bettys & Taylors, Harrogate.
Julia, Emma Stothard, MD Heather Parry and Peter Wright from The Yorkshire Vet at the opening of the new Fodder Garden.
Over both days, in the judging rings, visitors enjoyed a wide range of animals being put through their paces – from huge bulls to fluffy rabbits. The Best in Show Pigeon title went to Sean Morrow of Durham with his superbly named English Long Faced Muffed Tumbler, one of 700 pigeons he keeps!
It wasn’t just the kids who loved the atmosphere as the adults ‘Oohed!’ and ‘Aahed!’ over the animal exhibits in a chorus of appreciation, especially when stroking the heavy Clydesdale horses. Animals In-Tuition proved a hit with the youngsters who could handle a range of animals not usually found on farms, including snakes and tarantula spiders.
From horses to honey, pigeons to poultry, sheep to cattle, there were competitions and classes throughout the weekend as well as stands to browse, horticultural classes and farriery competitions.
The Outdoor Guide stand enjoyed a prime position and was busy throughout as visitors stopped by to find out more about the many faces of life outdoors. Happily, the Bradders Bus from Marquis Leisure was perfect for getting the team up in style, safety and comfort – lovely and such a comfortable drive!
Holly and Geoff from the RSPCA did some great work raising awareness of the impact of litter on wildlife and encouraging more #LitterHeroes to sign up.
On the Main Stage, Julia entertained the crowd with tales about her life, sharing her passion for the outdoors, protecting the countryside we love so dearly and soil regeneration. Encouraging everybody to “Be noisy!” about the environment, she offered sound advice on how families can make a difference.
Amanda Owen on stage with Julia – the friends shared stories from having babies in lay-bys to getting stuck in mud on the moors. They both looked right at home in their smart Dunlop footwear!
As well as book signings and photo-ops, we launched the limited edition, bespoke map of Julia’s TV walk up Pen-Y-Ghent and Debbie’s accessible walk around the National Trust’s Malham Tarn. Healthy Back Bags brightened up the stand whilst Vinni from Da Vinci and Andy from Terrain Hopper did some great test drives for off-road mobility chairs.
By the end of the show, the TOG team was tired but happy having enjoyed a wonderful couple of days at a great event and met so many lovely people. Onwards and upwards!
Top team for a top event!