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Stackyard News Dec 08

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Otley Show’s Nostalgia Call Ahead of 200th Event

Ahead of next year’s milestone 200th Otley Show, organisers are appealing for submissions of “nostalgia” to help chronicle the long and proud history of the event.

Looking forward to next year's 200th Otley Show on the Bridge End show ground are, from left, are some of the organisers and committee members Nick Houseman, Francis Caton, Gill Mitchell, Julie Houseman, Garry Norton, show secretary Janet Raw, Barry Halvorsen, Sue Warwick and Jim Warwick.

Otley Show organisers and committee members

“We would welcome any information, memories and pictures concerning past shows to assist us in putting together a more detailed record of the show over the past two centuries,” says Janet Raw, secretary of organisers Wharfedale Agricultural Society.

President Mervyn Lister has already started to compile special period displays shining the spotlight on the 200-year history of Otley Show, one of many new attractions that will feature at the 2009 event.

Research by Janet has also unearthed some fascinating facts about the show’s current committee members and their forebears, who between them must have well over 200 years service to the event, namely:

Mervyn Lister and his family have been involved with the show since the early 1900s.

Current Otley Show chairman and vice-chairman of the sheep section, Nick Houseman’s grandmother won a silver medal in the 1920s and the family has been closely involved since that time. Nick’s late sister Christine was also produce chairlady for many years, taking over from Pat Lofthouse.

Bert Verity is thought to be the oldest member. Now in his 90s, he remains deeply involved in everything to do with farming, with a huge amount of knowledge of the show scene. He, too, exhibited poultry at Otley from a very early age.

Show employee Gill Mitchell’s grandfather served as ground chairman for over 25 years, while her great grandfather won the Centenary Cup in 1898 for the best turnout.

Robin Cowgill, past president and past chairman, has been attending the show since he was a child.

Walker Barrett is another long-serving committee member and exhibitor, and now honorary life member. His late brother Henry was also involved with the pigeon side of the show.

The family of Mark Lofthouse, past chairman and current ground chairman, also has a long-standing connection with the show. His father was honorary veterinary officer and his mother produce chairlady for many years. Mark, himself, was a 'runner' at the age of seven, ferrying results to the secretary’s cabin.

Current sheep chairman Michael Wilson’s father and grandfather were involved, as are his son and grandson. The family has also exhibited for many years.

George Rice, cattle chairman for many years, is another long-serving show stalwart.

The bicentenary of Otley Show, Britain’s oldest annual one-day agricultural show, takes place on Saturday, May 16, 2009, at the Bridge End show ground. It’s the first big agricultural showpiece of the season and organisers are already working hard to ensure it’s one of the biggest and best ever.

Traditional livestock, equine and animal classes will again take centre stage, supported by classes for local produce, handicrafts, floral art and farriers.

Details of sponsorship and advertising packages available have also been sent to local businesses, as organisers bid to boost funds the make the 200th show the best in living memory. Last year’s main sponsor Waitrose, in Otley, has already agreed to support the 2009 event

Janet Raw also reports that there is a need for a volunteer organiser for the pet show. She can be contacted at show headquarters at 15 Bridge Street, Otley, or on 01943 462541 or 07961 966952. The show website is at

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