A CELEBRATION of the agricultural way of life got under way with a bang.

The Westmorland County Show, the largest event in the South Lakeland calendar, returned with a record number of entries in its livestock competitions.

Thousands of people were on the fields at Crooklands on Wednesday for day one of The Westmorland County Agricultural Society’s new two-day format, which was launched last year.

More than 30,000 people are expected to visit over the two days.

Traders from across the region showed off their wares in various tents while farmers competed in competitions for sheep, horses and alpacas.

Visitors also had the chance to sample the best Lakeland produce as well as being entertained with kite shows and tractors.

Organiser Christine Knipe said: “It’s been going really well. The support we’ve had for the two-day event has been massive. We’ve got record entries in sheep yet again, and strong entries across all the other sections.

“We’ve had a very healthy amount of people come to join us today.

“On the first day, we have got the breeding sheep section, we’ve got horses, hounds and terriers, and show jumping in the main ring.

“Tomorrow (September 8) we’ve got the cattle, more horses, we’ve got the dog show and the pigs. We also have wrestling.

“It’s all spread across both days.

“Each section has been reinvigorated with the two-day format and they have introduced a lot of new things in their sections.

“There is an extended show jumping program, and we’ve got extra activity in the ring which is unusual for us. Other than that, we are back to normal but not in a boring sense.

“2021 was the first time we ran under two days and it was hugely successful.

“A huge thank you to all those people behind the scenes. We’ve got a really strong volunteer body and a hard-working team putting it all on.”

A judge for the sheep competition, Jonathan Hodgson, who has been a farmer his whole life in Windermere, said: “This is a record entry for sheep. There haven’t been as many mules which I was judging earlier.

“We’ve got a good show out today. For the sheep I think it’s a good show, plenty of interest, lot of good sheep and it’s been a good year.

“The things we look for is, in my opinion, has to have good locomotion, needs to be able to wander the fields and fells. Good teeth. Then you start looking at the finer points of the breed.

“For the farmers who win, it gives them some great kudos, and after today they might go to a sale and make more money because of this. Other farmers will see them and will notice their good breeds.”

John Cookson, a riding, and confirmation judge for the horses, said: “When judging you are looking for a horse with good confirmation, good hind legs, and a good front.

“You also want a horse that can go out hunting. If you haven’t got that confirmation, you won’t have that good day out.

“If you ride judge them, you’re looking for a good horse that won’t pull your arms out, won’t take off with you, it’ll jump the edges and give you a good ride.

“I’ve been judging for 22 years, and this is my third year at the Westmorland Show.

“It’s a lovely show, and very well supported.

“We’ve got some good classes and good horses to judge so far. You expect nothing less.

“This year we’ve seen numbers being slightly down but that is down to costs of fuel. Everywhere is down, the cost of fuel is making people feel the pinch.”