Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Count on Stroppy Sheep

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Count on Stroppy Sheep

Article excerpt

Byline: By Keith Newton

The fair is in full swing and now the scene is set for the event that so often marks the great finale to summer, Stokesley Show.

The 131st extravaganza organised by the town's agricultural society takes place tomorrow promising to be as big as ever.

It includes all of the popular classes plus special features from Richard Preston's great Gavioli organ, to the Black Knights Of The Phoenix, to the Ever Ready Brass Band.

"Entries are very good after the foot and mouth of two years ago and the cattle and sheep have come back very well," says the show's long-time secretary, Alan Weighell.

They even have sheep dog trials, unlike July's Cleveland Show in Middlesbrough's Stewart Park.

Cleveland officials said the problem was a shortage of the right kind of "stroppy sheep" which would set challenging problems for the competing dogs.

"We have a strong sheep committee who have found the necessary sheep," says Alan.

"We have the edge over Cleveland as we are a bit more rural and nearer the countryside than them."

He is happy to report that numbers in all classes are as high as ever.

"The added attraction this year is that we are working with the Teesside Rose Society and putting on classes specifically for roses."

These are proving very popular. "We even have entries from Ramsbottom in Lancashire. If you are a specialist, you mix with others who do the same thing."

How have roses managed to grow on the Stokesley Show people? "I think we were approached by the Teesside Rose Society," says Alan.

"There had been communications between them and every section of our society and other societies, and we said 'Just work with us.'

"They have. It's a start and it's good to see that something like this has happened.

"I don't know if it will be permanent. We will just see how it goes, but I hope it will be."

He lists some of the rose classes that visitors to the show will see.

* Twelve standard stems, a cycle of bloom, half to three-quarters open. * An artist's palette containing seven miniature blooms. * A basket of miniature roses, any number of stems. * Any number of varieties, arranged lightly and daintily.

"Yes, it's true. That's what it says in the book," he declares.

Hallowe'en may still seem a long way off but Alan is already anticipating weighty worries in one particular area.

"There is quite a bit of local rivalry in the heaviest pumpkin section," he reports, recalling previous gamesmanship.

"One chap would send in the request 'Extra support required.' He was so sure his pumpkin was going to be a big one."

Or he could have been seeking to warn off rivals, or just wind them up, says Alan.

Old tractors are increasingly becoming major summer show attractions as more and more farmers and other folk collect and restore old warhorses rather than see them scrapped. …

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