ORGANISERS of the Great Yorkshire Show said this year's event had emerged from the shadow of the Tour de France to attract a strong turnout.

Nigel Pulling, the Yorkshire Agricultural Society's chief executive, said while visitor numbers had been down on the opening day, he believed more than 50,000 people had flocked to the Harrogate showground on Wednesday.

He said with the 250-acre venue bathed in sunshine for the final day, total visitor numbers for the three days would be above 130,000.

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Mr Pulling said the Tour, and the millions of spectators who watched it pass through Yorkshire, had changed the build-up to the event, and had probably caused some visitors to stay away, while attracting others who were staying in the area for the cycling race.

He said: "It has not been a hindrance at all, but we had to accommodate the effect of it, for example by allowing livestock to come in a day earlier."

He said the visits of the Countess of Wessex and Princess Anne and the performances of bareback rider Lorenzo had been the most popular attractions.

Mr Pulling said: "When Lorenzo performed there wasn't a spare inch around the main ring and you couldn't get in the stands."

Among the main attractions on the final day were displays by Lee Dixon, of East Rounton-based Mount Grace Gun Dogs, while crowds gathered to view the Great British Poleclimbing Championships and bird of prey displays by Thirsk-based falconer Ben Potter.

Farmer and surveyor Gawin Holmes, of Beamish, drew rounds of applause as he led his team of beautifully presented heavy horses around the main ring, ahead of a display by the Yorkshire Regiment.

Demonstrations in the Game Cookery Theatre included a lesson on cooking with rabbit by celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager and Michael Ibbotson, managing director of North Yorkshire pub chain, Provenance Inns.

With the judging of the cattle classes completed, farmers said they were looking forward to touring the showground and having more time to answer visitors' questions.

Fiona Goldie, 17, whose family has a herd of 200 milkers at Danby Wiske, near Northallerton, and scored a third place with Holstein maiden heifer Autumn Wisconsin, said the show's bustling atmosphere had been her highlight.

Thirsk-based cheesemaker Judy Bell, who launched her Shepherds Purse business at the show 25 years ago, said she had been wracked with nerves after taking on the chief steward role in the cheese and dairy section, particularly as judging had taken place in public for the first time.

Traders in the food hall reported brisk sales, which they said helped offset the rising cost of attending the event.

Bakers Davill's of Ripon, which has been selling its traditional products at the show for more than 20 years, said its Yorkshire curd tarts had proved popular in what had been an average year for business at the show.

In the vast sprawl of trade stands, architectural designer Malcolm Tempest, of Newton le Willows, near Bedale, said: "This show is just an institution, a serious showcase for what we do and we can't afford not to be here."