WESTMORLAND County Agricultural Society hailed 2012 a hugely successful year as members gathered for its annual meeting.

Chief executive Christine Knipe said it had been ‘extremely good’ for the society, although it continued to meet the challenges of a tough monetary climate.

“With continued economic pressure, 2012 was about working harder to keep business,” she said. “We are not immune to budget pressures and the bite of the recession continues to be felt.”

But members heard that in contrast to 2011, both the county show and Country Fest made a surplus.

The society’s accounts were also given a boost by the winding up of Burton, Milnthorpe and Carnforth Show.

Its committee transferred the remaining £30,000 of funds to be administered as a fund with grants for agricultural related activity.

“While it is extremely sad that Burton Show will no longer continue, it is appropriate that the accumulated funds are to be used for the benefit of agriculture in the area,” said Mrs Knipe.

The 213th county show itself was a huge success; with the third highest attendance on record with more than 29,000 people flocking to the Crooklands showground.

The fourth Country Fest event in May also went well, benefiting from sunshine and being extended into Saturday evening for the first time with an open air family concert.

Outgoing president Hal Bagot told members about plans to extend Country Fest and to introduce a scout jamboree, a Volkswagen enthusiasts’ show, and farm open days in the coming year.

Members also heard about the intention to ‘keep abreast of the times’ by embracing social media networks and always looking for new business opportunities.

Mr Bagot said: “The society was founded in 1799. If we don’t keep moving forward, who knows whether it will be here in another 200 years.”

The meeting concluded with the appointment of officers for the coming year.

President Tom Gorst praised the hard work of Mr Bagot and his wife Susie.

“I feel very honoured,” he said. “But they are a hard act to follow.”