PREPARATIONS are well under way for the return of the biggest event in the north's agricultural calendar.

Last summer the annual Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate had to be cancelled because of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

And next year, organisers are determined to make up for that when they stage the 144th show from July 9 to 11.

Show director Christopher Hall said: "With the traumas of this year receding, we are determined to ensure the 2002 show is a focus for enjoyment and revitalisation of the farming industry. We are very hopeful that the livestock classes will run as usual.

"The cancellation of so many events has made us all realise the value of getting out and meeting people, whether it is friends, family, customers or suppliers.

"The Great Yorkshire Show has always been a social occasion as well as an important date in the farming calendar, so the 2002 event will be particularly special."

For the first time since 1962, a cheese show will now be included with 21 classes for English varieties. It is being organised in conjunction with Wensleydale Creameries, of Hawes, North Yorkshire, and is regarded as a logical addition to the show.

Already lined up on the showground are a Shetland pony Grand National, the White Helmets motor cycle display team, a sheepdog display plus classes for four-in-hand coaches, the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment and top show jumping.

Ticket prices have been pegged at the 2000 levels. An adult ticket costs £12, over sixties £9 and children (five to 15 years) £6. There are discounts available for advance bookings. Car parking is extensive and free.