A Show is born….
Malhamdale Show has its origins in a meeting held at Airton on 22nd May 1907. The proceedings are briefly recorded in the minute book held in the Craven Museum, Skipton, and reads:
“It was agreed that the inhabitants of Kirkby Malhamdale do arrange to hold a Show and Gala and that the association for the purpose be formed. Mr. T. Edmondson proposed and Mr. Beck seconded the proposal that Mr. D. Carradice be Secretary of the association – carried. A second meeting was held on 28th May 1907 when It was agreed that a committee be formed consisting of all members who subscribe half a crown to the funds of the Association.”
The First Show
The first show was held on Saturday August 24th 1907 at Airton in “the croft against Mr Simpson’s”. Sports included races for boys and girls attending parish schools, water carrying in glasses for girls, a bun eating competition for boys, a duck race, a wheelbarrow race where the competitors were blindfolded, a slow bicycle race, sack races and a married ladies’ race.
The shows continued each year at Airton until the outbreak of the First World War, 1921 & 1922 saw the Show resume but then there is no record of anymore shows or sports days in Malhamdale until after the Second World War.
A show is reborn in 1946
Malhamdale Show as we know it today restarted when the Horticultural Committee met at 7 pm on Wednesday 17th April 1946 in Scosthrop School. The committee felt that the Show should also have an agricultural section and the secretary was asked to write to representatives from Otterburn, Calton, Scosthrop, Airton, Kirkby Malham, Hanlith, and Malham and invite them to serve on the committee.
This resulted in a meeting of the following enlarged committee on Tuesday 23rd April 1946. There were present Messrs F.Caton, J.Scarborough, R.Wright, G.Lister, W.Thorpe, T.Fagg, J.Hall, J.Verity, W.Swaine, E.Johnson, J.Thompson, P.Bolland and R.Taylor. Apologies were received from Messrs W.Hudson, J.Robinson, and T.Foster.
The show was to be held in Mr Joseph Hall’s field at Airton and it was decided to call the show “Malhamdale Show and Sports”. A further five meetings were held before the show took place on Saturday 24th August 1946.
Each year the Committee tried to introduce new activities or classes to keep the show interesting. Babies’ beauty was popular for many years but more recently has dwindled in interest and is not part of the programme now; Robin Hargreaves shared his reflection of his own participation recently on twitter as part of #ShareaStoryinOneTweet
“When I was 6 months old in 1962 my mum entered me into the babies’ beauty contest at Malhamdale Show. As she approached the ring where the judging was about to take place she assessed the opposition and withdrew me.”- Robin Hargreaves
The Show moves from Airton to Malham
The sixties brought a new Show setting – in fact described as ‘A delightful new setting’. In 1960 the Show moved from Mr WJ. Hall’s field in Airton to its present site in Malham to a field then owned by Mr W Sharp. The Show continued to grow in popularity but retained and consolidated on the traditional events for which it had become well known.
This decade also saw Malham Show have its First Lady President in 1965 – Mrs Vera Fell of Otterburn. It would be over 20 years before the next female President.
Mr Jack Wilson shows off his prize winning fruit cake.
David Caton in the Dry-stone Walling competition 1982.
Malham Show buys the Showfield
In 1977 Malhamdale Show was offered the opportunity, from Mr Frank Sharp, to buy the Showfield. The Show Committee set about raising £3000 to buy the Showfield.
This was done by an auction sale of exhibited and donated livestock and produce which raised £850, a barn dance at Hurries Farm, Otterburn, a whist drive and raffle, a coffee morning in Malham Village Hall and a letter sent to all households in Malhamdale requesting support for the purchase. By the time of the AGM in January 1978 the Showfield had been bought and paid for.
Over the years the weather and especially the rain has been a feature of many of the Shows, but we persevere regardless.
In 1985, for example, President, Mr Eric Hargreaves, commented it would take more than “a bit of rain and muck” to put Malham Show off. (However Betty, his wife, was unable to wear her specially tailored show outfit!).
Again 1988 was a very wet muddy Show and President Mrs Maureen Hill was reported as looking ‘elegant in an eye-catching black and white patterned dress, matching hat…and green wellies!’
During the next couple of decades farming went through difficult times and the Show has had to diversify. The character of the Show in the nineties reflected the gradual decline in dairy farming in the dale with fewer classes and entries in the cattle sections while sheep entries increased with more classes for Swaledales and new classes for Blue Faced Leicesters and Mules which had become the dominant breeds. In 2001 the Show was cancelled due to Foot & Mouth.
However fell racing, dry stone walling and sheep dog trials maintained their traditional role at the Show.
More recently rare & native breeds of cattle and sheep have started a comeback.
The Horticulture, handicrafts and baking in the produce tent has continued to show a high standard of entries over the years. Children’s handicrafts and baking, adult handicrafts & baking, vegetables, jams and wines are all still in abundance and the competition is still as keen as ever.
The Show continues to develop each year, trying to stay relevant in the 21st Century and trying to maintain some of the traditions which have brought the Show success. In essence trying to keep the values which formed that original description