If you’re visiting the Harrogate area then you’ll also likely want to travel to some of the surrounding areas. Here in Yorkshire you’ll find some typically British places filled with traditional ways and historic activities that you simply must take part in whilst you’re in the area. Not far from Harrogate you’ll find the small town of Masham, a typical dales town filled with Yorkshire charm and surrounded by natural beauty, it’s perhaps best known for its Georgian market placed in the heart of the town. If you decide to visit in October, you’ll find that this open market place is filled with people, farmers and of course sheep, for this is when the Masham Sheep Fair takes place and it makes for a great day out.
What is the sheep fair?
Well that is a good question. Once upon a time this market was well-known for its trade in sheep, once selling up to 70,000 of them in a single year. The Masham Sheep Fair is a celebration of these good old days, filling the square with all sorts of sheep themed activities and raising money for charity so everyone is a winner.
The Sheep fair first ran 30 years ago when Susan Cunliffe-Lister, helped by a band of enthusiastic volunteers, decided to hold one, intending it to be a one-off event in order to raise money for farmers out in Africa, a charity known as Sheep Aid. In that first year the event raised £7,950 and it was with that that Susan and the volunteers decided that they should hold the fair annually. Since that decision was made the fair has gone one to raise £158,700 for different Yorkshire based charities.
Over the weekend there are plenty of different shows, events and activities for visitors of all ages to enjoy. There is the popular sheep show, sponsored by Black Sheep Brewery where sheep compete to be the finest of their kind, sheep racing (which is as fun to watch as it sounds), fleece stalls, a wool competition and a sheep dog demonstration for the dig lovers amongst you. As well as sheep-based activities, you’ll find Morris dancers, hand bell ringers, live music, an art exhibition, flower demonstrations and even tours of the Theakston and Black Sheep Brewers nearby. Finally, there is a children’s fair for the kids too so there really is something for everyone in the family.
The fair takes place on the 5th and the 6th of October and stretches across this idyllic English town where you’ll also find fine food, drink and local run shops for you to enjoy whilst you’re there. The Bonus about staying in Masham is that it’s also a great base to visit the Yorkshire Dales and take in all the beautiful sites that this region is so well known and loved for.