Its 6am on the 4th November and dawn breaks on a freezingly cold and damp day, all our hard work is about to be put to the test.
Come 7.30am competitors will start rolling up, so off we head for the ploughing field to put the final touches to our efforts, trophys laid out , FFA rosettes on display, raffle prizes laid out and tickets put on.
Secretary in place in her warm caravan sorting out her paperwork, caterers arrive and shown where to set up whilst we hope for a quick cup of tea before our duties start.
Sure enough the first competitors arrive and on hard frosty ground drive straight in to unload, not so by 8 am the frost is coming out and we start to tow wagons into the field. By 9.30 everyone has arrived and then numbers are drawn and 62 competitors head for their plots.
Judges briefed and up goes the rocket at 10 am sharp, and we grab a cup of tea whilst the heat is off.
Soon a lovely sight of vintage and classic tractors at work unfolds, good, bad and indifferent ploughmen are plying their skills to achieve a perfect plot, by 2.30 the judges will have their verdicts on who's done what, (not an easy task).
The weather and cost of fuel has made a big dent in attendance this year with both spectators and ploughmen are down on numbers, many competitors are still trying to lift spuds or get winter corn drilled while its a fine day.
Still the show must go on, and on it does, soon plots are coming to their final furrow and in some excellent ploughing land kindly donated by our host farmer Mr Richard Bayston the day ends 2.30 prompt.
Soon scores are added up, prize cards written out and the hooter calls everyone to the caravan, a crowd of smiling expectant faces all eagerly await their fate.! So off we go first thanks are given to our host farmer Mr Richard Bayston, then our sponsors Cheffins Auctioneers with thanks to Bill King, Russells New Holland dealers thanks to Paul Russell, Ripon farm services thanks to Ian McPhereson and everyone who either helped or made the day tick along.
The following are the well deserved FFA winners on what turned out to be an excellent day:
1st - Overall Winner - David Thomlinson from York
2nd - David Auckland from Penistone 3rd - Darren Easter from Penistone
Vintage Mounted Winners:
1st - Ray Thompson from Bedale
2nd - Co Looyestein from Netherland 3rd- Tom Duckett from Lancashire
1st - "Steaming to Victory" Frank Millington from Selby
2nd - Dan Bartle from Lincolnshire 3rd - Menno de Graaf from Netherlands
As the applause dies away and discussions start as usual on the verdicts, and our work starts again towing them all out as they drift off home some local and some long distance, two particularly fine competitors Menno de Graaf and Co Looyestein set off to Holland. Soon all is quiet and as dark comes we tidy up and set off for home after another succesfull match is complete.
Words & Photos - Roger Ingham
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Northern FFA Ploughing Championships
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