RAISING FUNDS: Andrew and Christine Bracewell with June Addison, centre, at the Bowes Show stand at the Wednesday market in Barnard Castle last week
RAISING FUNDS: Andrew and Christine Bracewell with June Addison, centre, at the Bowes Show stand at the Wednesday market in Barnard Castle last week

BOWES Show organisers are on tenterhooks as they anxiously wait to see if they have any horses in this year’s show after placing strict restrictions on entries because of fears over equine flu.

Anyone wanting to enter the horse and pony classes has to have prove their animals have completed the full set of three vaccination injections to be allowed onto the field this year. Entries close today (Wednesday).

President elect of the show Andrew Bracewell said the restriction was placed following veterinary advice.

He added: “The big problem is with the equine flu and that has made it restricted. There may not be enough entries in the horses because of the equine restriction.

“The show is dependant on the horses. It is not that long ago that the show almost folded financially and it was the horses that kept it going.

“What worries me is if we have very few horses. It isn’t good to have classes with two or three entries. It is bad for the competitors and for the judges. It is bad all round.”

However, all other classes are expected to be well represented as they have in the past, particularly in the sheep section which has classes for Swaledale, blue faced Leicester, mules, texel, zwartble, herdwick and Jacob.

While not a traditional Herdwick area, the class has grown in recent years, attracting new entrants to the show.

Mr Bracewell said: “The herdwicks seem to have spread east recently. By introducing them we are also bring people over from the west.”

Some additions have been brought in to the produce section, particularly for children where a new tallest sunflower competition has been introduced to complement the existing longest thistle and heaviest potato.

Mr Bracewell said: “The sunflower entry has been very good. All the children have their sunflower – our problem now is where to put them. We may have to take them outside because there is not enough space in the produce tent.”

He added that the show is aimed at the whole family and the children's classes are important for the future of the annual event which is now in its 132nd year.

He said: “Essentially Bowes is a traditional dales show. It can't compete with Reeth and the big shows.

“It is for the village, it is really for the community as a whole.

“It is a responsibility to try make it better and it’s a hard act to follow the people in the past. But there is a sense of sense of achievement if you have a successful show.

“We are dependant on the goodwill of people, like the stewards and the judges. There is a lot of goodwill that goes into it.”

Another factor affecting the viability of the show is the weather and numbers at the gate were down in 2016 when heavy downpours drenched the showground and vehicles became stuck in the resulting mud.

Last year, however, more than 1,500 people visited the event. Mr Bracewell said: “That is all the difference between head above water – profit or loss. You can break even on trade stands, entries and sponsors – if there is black on the bottom line then that is due to the gate, the footfall.”

He added that the show committee is prepared for any eventuality and keeps cash for a rainy day.

He said: “We have a reserve in the bank, which is locked up and it will only be opened up if we have a disaster.”