There are plenty of bigger country shows, or those with more prize money at stake but Muker Show is acknowledged by all concerned as being one of the most special shows in the county.
So what makes it special, apart from its stunning location just behind the gorgeous village of Muker by the River Swale of course?
Some people may complain that it's held on a Wednesday, a working day, but that's part of its charm. This is a proper working show, with real purpose beyond the entertainment of visitors. Visitors are of course very welcome but this is very much a show put on by locals for locals. It has a very important focus - sheep, and not just any sheep but Swaledale Sheep in particular. The sheep showing classes are fiercely competitive, not just just for the sake of a shiny cup but for their intrinsic importance. We're at the start of the sale season for breeding stock, particularly at nearby Hawes and Kirkby Stephen auctions. Winners or progeny of winners from Muker Show can go on to fetch excellent prizes at the sales. There are even chances for the public to have a go at sheep judging during the show.
Expect to also find strongly contested handicraft and food classes, as well as fell running races and this year Swaledale Museum will be asking for the public to share their memories of previous shows.
Another special feature is the music. Muker Silver Band starts and finishes the day, performing and leading a procession of the stewards and judges from outside the Farmers Arms to the show ground. The Silver Band's music floats on the air through-out the day at the show and then at 5ish there is a community singalong outside the Farmers Arms in Muker to round off the day. At some stage it's likely you'll hear the traditional Swaledale anthem, Beautiful Dale, Home of the Swale...
I will sing of a place that is dear to my heart,
A place where I always would dwell,
And if you will kindly lend me an ear
A few of its beauties I’ll tell
Chorus: In that beautiful dale, home of the Swale,
How well do I love thee, how well do I love thee?
Beautiful dale, home of the Swale,
Beautiful, beautiful dale.
Oh, it’s far far away from the noise and the din
Of colliery an’ factory an’ mill,
From the bustle and stir of town life, shut in
By verdant and radiant hills.
And how often as boys have we wandered along
Beside of the river so clear;
The birds never failing to sing their sweet song
And lend a charm to your ear.
And if fate ever compels me to leave this dear spot
In other lands far away roam,
My earnest wish whatever be my lot
Is to end my days here at home.
While you're in Muker, don't miss the Old School Gallery & Cafe, and call in to the church to see if you can find my favourite vicar on a three-wheeler...