CALL it luck or the hand of God but the rain held off at the Okehampton Show, despite grey clouds hovering moodily over the tors on Dartmoor.

For exhibitors the show on Thursday last week (August 8) was the culmination of months of hard work to get their animals to peak condition, with an all-important wash and brush up the night before to ensure they looked their best in the show ring.

Exhibitors came from as far afield as Yorkshire, Somerset and Dorset as well as just up the road. They were carefully assessed in the ring by judges, who are stockkeepers themselves, who gave the nod to indicate who should be given the top rosette.

Among those having a good day was first-time show exhibitor Julian Rice of North Tawton who won champion male sheep with one of his poll Dorsets. Helped by his young daughter Leona in her white coat, he said: ‘I’m extremely pleased. I’m not from a farming family, I’m a carpenter by trade and this is a hobby We only started last year so it has been a steep learning curve but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.’

Cerys Osborne, 12, of Jacobstow near Bude, also had a good day, leading her calf Chunk, a British blue cross as champion calf in the grand parade during the afternoon. ‘I’ve been showing for about five years and this is Chunk’s first show,’ she said.

Winning the interbreed pig championship was a British lop gilt (young female) called Liskeard Lulu shown by Julian Collings of Treburley near Launceston.

‘This is the third year I’ve won the interbreed championship here although the last two have been with sows,’ he said. ‘I wasn’t expecting to win today as she’s just a young gilt but we have. I’ve been showing myself for more than 50 years.’

It was also a proud day for Colin Hutchings of Exmoor. He was returning to Okehampton, the town of his birth, to show his Aberdeen Angus cattle, and topped a clutch of wins winning the interbreed individual championship with his four-year-old bull Balgay Elfhelm. Colin almost didn’t make the show because of being held up in traffic — but said he was glad he had.

‘I wanted to show at Okehampton because I was born here in 1940,’ he said. ‘I have a lot of friends and relatives here in Okehampton. It is great to be here today. It is such a friendly show, so laidback.’

Town mayor Julie Yelland was among the guests of honour at the lunch hosted by show president Ruth Maile. ‘It is a fantastic show,’ she said. ‘I have had a wonderful day and it is great to see so many people out here enjoying themselves.

‘This is pretty much my 50th show, I’ve been here man and boy for the last 50 years and it has been in various locations in that time so it is wonderful to be here today as mayor.

Possibly the most long-standing veteran at the show was Okehampton farmer Ken Heard who first took part in the show back in 1948 aged 16 and has never missed a show.

‘The weather has held off today,’ he said. ‘The sheep have been excellent and the stock is wonderful.

‘My grandsons James and Michael have won with their Suffolks and had success with their Scotch blackface and my son John has been showing his cows, calves and Galloways. It has been a lovely day.’Pick up today's edition of the Okehampton Times for SEVEN pages of pictures, results and coverage.