Generations of organisers celebrate sheep fair success

NARG 1609251AM3 Masham Sheep Fair. (1609251AM3)
NARG 1609251AM3 Masham Sheep Fair. (1609251AM3)

Crowds flocked to see Masham’s famous Sheep Fair last weekend.

And the two-day event, which was started 31 years ago, is expected to have raised around £12,000 for local charities including the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

NARG 1609251AM11 Masham Sheep Fair. Stuart Alderson with his winning  ram lamb. (1609251AM11)

NARG 1609251AM11 Masham Sheep Fair. Stuart Alderson with his winning ram lamb. (1609251AM11)

Spokesman Susan Briggs, director of Masham-based The Tourism Network, said organisers this year wanted to highlight the contribution made by one of its show stalwarts.

“One of the things we were keen to do this year was to mark the contribution made by commentator and supporter Mike Keeble, who died one year ago on Sunday.

“We introduced the Mike Keeble Cup and in keeping with Mike’s belief that we should encourage young handlers, this was given to the youngest competitor, two-year-old Luke Percy, with his Beltex sheep.”

Masham is famous for its sheep sales where in the past as many as 70,000 sheep were sold each year.

An action-packed programme saw sheep racing, fleece stall, wool competition, sheepdog demonstrations, morris dancers and a children’s fair.

But the sheep and the people who tend to them still prove popular with visitors and exhibitors.

Susan added: “We were very pleased with the entries for the sheep classes, with some specialist classes such as the Jacobs being particularly well attended. “Many exhibitors and visitors comment that Masham Sheep Fair is one of the most informal and laid-back shows they attend, with the public being able to get up close to the sheep and ask farmers questions - and many of the farmers are really pleased to be able to talk to the public and dispel some common misconceptions.”

When started 30 years ago by Susan Cunliffe-Lister and a band of volunteers, the Sheep Fair was intended as a one-off to raise money for farmers in Africa.

But the event now spans generations of volunteers and Susan paid tribute to the organisers of today’s Sheep Fair.

“This was the 31st year of the Sheep Show and it’s all done by volunteers, led by Susan Cunliffe Lister,” added Susan Briggs.

“Many of the volunteers have been involved since the beginning and it is great to acknowledge their important role in this, particularly Dick Anderson and David Neson.

“We’ve now started getting the third generation of some families involved in the sheep fair.

“Martin Wilkinson and his wife Fiona Wilkinson (treasurer) have now got fully involved.

“Martin’s dad, Ken Wilkinson, was very involved before he died two years ago, and now Martin’s children join in selling programmes too. Ruth Thompson (secretary) is now working on entries with her daughter Hannah.”