Thursday, 7 October 2010

A sheep-tastic day out at Masham Sheep Fair...

We recently trekked over to Yorkshire for the famous Masham Sheep Fair, a huge gathering of sheep and sheep-related activities in the town's market square. It was brilliant!

There's a great atmosphere because the pens of sheep are right in the market place, surrounded by shops and houses...
Showing Dalesbred sheep

With the lovely church in the background...
View of the church at Masham

2010 marked the 25th anniversary of the Masham Sheep Fair, which has been held in the town since 1986. September sheep fairs used to take place in town centres up and down the country but died out during the first world war. The Masham Sheep Fair was revived to raise money for the Sheep Aid for Africa cause and was so much fun that it became an annual event. Thousands of pounds are raised for charities each year.

Although the sheep that come to the fair are no longer sold at the event, its an important competition in the showing calendar and a different range of sheep breeds compete on each of the two days.

Its a good opportunity for sheep geeks like me to get to know the differences between similar-looking breeds because the pens are close together and clearly labelled with the breed names (which you don't always get at agricultural shows).

We went on the Saturday and saw the most local breed, the Masham...
Masham sheep pens

Plenty of Dalesbred...
Dalesbred sheep

Including some rams with amazing curly horns...
Dalesbred ram with big horns

Teeswater, with their long lustrous fleeces...
Teeswater sheep
Shearing time was quite recently so the fleeces weren't as long as they can be, but the length of this one's fringe (which must have escaped the clippers) gives you an idea!

Jacob (this one was amazingly fluffy!)...
Fluffy Jacob sheep

Oxford Down...
Pens of Oxford Down sheep

And one of Ade's favourites, the Suffolk...
Suffolk sheep

Here's Ade checking out a springy Suffolk fleece...
Ade touches a Suffolk

Other breeds competing on Saturday included Wensleydale, Texel, Blue Faced Leicester and Swaledale. Sunday's breeds included several continental varieties and another great selection of British breeds such as Cheviot, Dorset Horn and Poll Dorset, Ryeland, Hampshire Down and mixed classes for primitive breeds and any other pure breed. I would have liked to visit on both days so that I could've seen the Lincoln Longwools, black Wensleydales and coloured Ryelands in the mixed classes on the Sunday. Oh well, maybe next year!

As well as the sheep classes, there was a craft market, sheepdog demonstrations, wool craft competitions, a Bishop Blaize procession (in honour of the patron saint of wool combers) and various other demonstrations (spinning, coopering, sheep shearing etc).

But behind the church, something highly random was going on...
Sheep racing 1
Sheep racing!
Sheep racing 2
Four sheep, racing over hurdles...
Sheep racing 3
With a packed out crowd of public onlookers placing bets on the winner! I think the people that had to tempt them/chase them along the track were more worn out than the sheep themselves :)

After all that excitement, we had to have a walk to the Theakston brewery for a sit down (me) and a cheeky pint or two (Ade).

How's this for a nutritious-looking pint?
Old Peculiar

It went down a treat though...
Ade drinking Old Peculiar

After a rest, we went back to the fair and although I was tempted by the overflowing tables of fresh fleeces on the fleece sale stall...
Fleece stall 1

I resisted the urge (amazingly!) and all we came home with was a fetching Masham Sheep Fair tea towel and a show programme...
Masham Sheep Fair tea towel and programme

It was a great day and I'd definitely go back another year! :)


  1. Can I have a rug made of Jacob! (tee hee) x

  2. Have you been reading too much Twilight?! :D

    A sheepskin rug like that fluffy (sheepy) Jacob would be lovely to snuggle up with too! x x

  3. Twilight's for teenagers, I prefer Trueblood! Anyway, I'd be Team Edward! lol x

  4. Thank you Flyhoof for the wonderful tour of the MarMasham Sheep Fair. I enjoyed the photos, with captions and your blog very very much. I live in Virginia, USA and received a "Know Your Sheep" book from a friend in Portsmouth. I was researching some of the breeds and found your blog- it is lovely and helpful. I wish I could come to the fair.