A COOL cloudy morning made way for bright blue skies and sunshine as thousands flocked to enjoy the first day of the Great Yorkshire Show.

Over the next three days 130,000 people are expected to pour through the gates at the Harrogate showground, with organisers saying advance ticket sales were 'very high' this year.

The event, at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate, has become the leading showcase for food and farming in the north.

More than 8,500 animals are competing for the all important rosettes and cups, with sheep, cattle and horse classes overwhelmed and a record three national beef championships held at the showground.

This year marks the 160th anniversary of the three-day event and show director Charles Mills said: “We think every year is special but the anniversary does add to the event in many ways that we have progressed to where we are.

"What we are most concerned about is that people come and enjoy themselves and see what is on offer."

He said this year's weather was a major challenge for the show and for farmers and breeders, first with the Beast from the East and freezing weather well into spring, and then the sweltering soaring temperatures of June which have dried everything up.

Mr Mills said: “We have had to bring in a lot of water and the fact that it has cooled down and is set to stay cool for the next three days is a bonus.

"It helps not only the visitors but the animals as well who need to be in peek condition so they can be shown at their best.”

It’s not all about the competition, the show is about entertaining the masses as well, with Countryfile’s Anita Rani and Head Chef Harrison Barracough showing off their cooking skills throughout the day.

Singer Lizzie Jones was the first person to sing in the main ring with the Band of the Royal Armoured Corps and there are a host of country pursuits and industry demonstrations going on throughout the day.

Countryfile presenter Anita Rani is also on the catwalk with other models showing off some of the best local designs and fabrics.

The show is also having it’s first ever wedding with farmers Liz Bailey and Chris Moorhouse, from Huddersfield, tying the knot and celebrating with their families.

Emmerdale actor Chris Chittell, who plays Eric Pollard is also at the show meeting visitors and soaking up the bouyant atmosphere.

He said he comes to the event whenever he can and says ‘the people' are the best thing about it.

He added: “I would like to get into farming as a profession if I had a second chance because they get a bite of the apple when it comes to conservation.

"It is all in their (farmers) ball court really and they have to remind Joe Public what farming is all about and the respect that you should be giving to the land.”

George Dunn, chief executive of the Tenant Farmers Association, said the show was a standout celebration of the farming industry.

"It is a great show," he said. "It is one of the last remaining great agricultural shows in the country, it is a fabulous show and I really enjoy coming here."