Sunshine success at Skelton Show

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The sun has set on another Skelton Show.

After a week of torrential downpours, which at one point threw a question mark over whether Cumbria's finest village show would go ahead, the sun came out and so did thousands of visitors.

Dubbed the 'lucky' show, a nickname Skelton earned after being blessed with fine weather year after year, a relieved show committee revealed how they had been forced to make an inspection of the picturesque Hutton-in-Forest venue just two days previously.

"But thanks to some hard graft and a well-drained showground it got us out of the mess and we were able to take to social media to report 'the show would go on'," said chairman Andrew Burgh.

But, as the day drew to a close, he told the crowd lining the main ring, that the ground was still soft in places, and appealed for them to avoid those areas. "We have put down wood shavings, but please try and steer clear of these areas, as we have to restore Old Park to its original state," Mr Burgh added.

Ice-cream vans did a roaring trade, while the older visitors slaked their thirst at the beer tent serving a range of craft beers from local breweries.

"I just love the animals," said 10-year-old Emily McDougall. "There are so many different ones," added Emily, who was clutching an ice-cream in one hand, and the family's two-year-old black labrador, Rocky, in the other.

Just then Rocky took that moment to bark excitedly as he came face-to-face with one of the animals being given a last-minute wash and brush-up before making its way to the main ring.

"I think maybe Rocky is a bit young to enter the pet and child, but we may do it next year," said mum, Gillian, from Carlisle.

Fortified by the sun, visitors, some dressed in wellies 'just in case', indulged in a day of good old-fashioned country show fun,

Scurry driving, Meerkats, donkey rides, a falconry display and everyone's favourites, Cumberland and Westmorland style wrestling, vintage tractors and the Cumberland Farmers Foxhounds.

"A marker of the show's popularity is that in a parish of under 1,500 people the show often attracts over 10,000 visitors," said show president, Simon Meynell.

While the last-minute change to the weather brought out the crowds, over in the Industrial Tent, some of the entries in the vegetable and fruit sections were down.

But what was exhibited was extremely good quality, said committee member, John Bridges.

"It's unfortunate, but what we lost in the fruit and vegetables was more than made up for in the entries in the horticultural section. The flowers are spectacular, and the judges were so impressed with the quality they awarded discretionary fourth tickets," added Mr Bridges.

While younger visitors jumped at the chance to get up close and personal with the awe-inspiring birds of prey in the Silverband Falconry Display, the top horses, sheep, beef and dairy animals were lining up to be judged for the Champion of Champions crown.

This year it was beaming Penrith breeder, Neil Slack, who captured the prized accolade with his unusually-named commercial animal, Ramalammadingdong.

When asked how the name was spelled, Neil replied: "I haven't a clue, just how you want!"

The win was all the sweeter, for Neil, as the Belgian Blue cross Charolais was home-bred. It had earlier beaten the winners in the beef classes to take the supreme beef interbreed championship.

Reserve champion of champions fell to a handsome Jersey cross red-and-white Holstein, owned by the Rudd family from Wigton. It had earlier taken the Supreme Dairy Championship crown.

"Marjorie Rudd loves this heifer," said 18-year-old Katie Stamper, who works for the Rudds, who milk a Holstein/Friesian herd of 160, plus followers.

As the day drew to a close a light shower failed to put off visitors.

"It's been a fabulous day. Everyone has a beaming smile on their faces, and that is what counts," said Mr Burgh.

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