“IF you live in this area, keeping sheep is a religion”, veteran Wensleydale Show commentator told the ranks of show-goers watching the 100th running of the event’s interbreed contest.

While masses of visitors to the extensive Leyburn showground had earlier paused to watch spectacular displays by former Bagby Airfield-based acrobatic pilot Tom Cassells and Britain’s Got Talent motorbike display team Bolddog Lings, the drama for many climaxed with the judging of more than a dozen sheep breed winners.

By the side of the main ring, office worker Diane Shiers, who was making her annual visit to the show with her mechanic husband, Alan, from Bradford, was thrilled with the entertainment.

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She said: “I never knew prior to coming here how many different types of sheep there were.”

After much deliberation by judge William Iveson, herdsman Stephen Hodgson, of nearby Patrick Brompton emerged triumphant with his home-bred shearling Charollais tup.

Mr Hodgson said while the victory capped a successful showing season in which he had also collected a fourth place at the Great Yorkshire Show, his celebrations would be curtailed by having to return to work to milk the cows.

Show president Julie Clarke, a Coverdale bed and breakfast owner and stalwart of the show since 1974, said while the show focused on the agriculture and tradition, it was continually evolving.

She said: “We have moved with the times in the things we ask entrants to exhibit, so the number of entries that we receive is comparable to what we had 20 years ago.

“It’s still run by volunteers and people don’t realise the amount of effort that goes into the preparation of the show.”