Masham Sheep Fair may be the last major sheep event of the season yet it surely is at the forefront when it comes to the calibre of stock on show, especially with more than 40 breeds lining up to compete for the various accolades.

Added to this is the rich mix of both local exhibitors and judges and those who have travelled several hundred miles to judge and compete.

For example the winner of the Hampshire Down Championship had left home in Scotland at 2.30am on Sunday morning to take part, though it had obviously been a worthwhile journey.

The Northern Farmer: Showing at Masham Sheep Fair  Picture: ANDY BURNS

Another such traveller was Richard Heath who had come all the way from Stoke on Trent to entertain the crowds with his sheep dog handling demonstrations.

Richard clarified some of the mystique of dog training and handling, where the only pay cheque needed is love and kindness, food and a warm place to sleep. He said his dog, four year old Border Collie, Meg, has the intelligence of an average six year old child, as it is one of the most intelligent breeds of dogs. Also of interest is that the word "collie" is a Saxon word meaning "useful".

Read more: Muller announces it is cutting milk price to 36.5p per litre for November

This highly organised two day event could not of course continue without the dedication of so many local families, many of whom I have got to know over the last 38 years, such as Ruth Thompson and her daughter Hannah, the volunteer show secretaries, with Ruth being one of the original team.

The Northern Farmer: Masham Sheep Fair  Picture: ANDY BURNS

It is also important to mention that without local sponsorship and volunteers such events would struggle, a point that came to mind when Chris I'Anson of I'Anson Bros Ltd presented the trophies on Saturday afternoon.

On Saturday the Supreme Champion was a well deserved achievement for 11-year-old John North from Giggleswick, with his Suffolk tup lamb.

The Northern Farmer: John North with his Supreme Champion Suffolk tup lamb

James Bailey, from Bedale, took Reserve Supreme Champion with his five shear Blue Texel ewe, which, for any ewe of this age, is quite an accolade. James also took the trophy for the local exhibitor gaining the highest number of points.

Andrew Fisher, from Pateley Bridge, was again in the final lineup, winning the Supreme Championship with his Group of Three Kerry Hills.

Read more: NSA welcomes improved availability of vaccines at crucial time

Pamela Lupton, from Galphay, again took the Champion Cross-Bred, though with a gimmer lamb this time.

Moving on to Sunday I was somewhat impressed with a local lad from Masham, Ewan Metcalfe and his Reserve Breed Champion Dutch Spotted, a four shear ram.

The Northern Farmer: Ewan Metcalfe with his Reserve Breed Champion Dutch Spotted, a four shear ram

This naturally presented sheep caught my eye and as Ewan explained he is looking for scale, conformation, ease of lambing and correctness and is not overly interested in markings.

Sadly, a number of sheep breeds are focusing too much on the show ring, and are taking their eye off their breed's contribution to the commercial sheep industry, especially when our customers, the average household, keep moving the goal posts.

Taking this view forward when chatting with Geoffrey Todd and Angela Shaw, from Portpatrick, in Scotland, their homebred Champion Hampshire Down, a gimmer shearling, could be a breed we see more of in the future, for, with escalating feed, welfare and associated veterinary costs eroding much of the profit, stock, which is grass fed, has improved eatability and performance, will become considerations for the future.

The Northern Farmer: Geoffrey Todd and Angela Shaw with their Breed Champion Hampshire Down, a gimmer shearling

Sunday's Supreme Championship went to the Stone's Family as did the Supreme Champion Group of Three with their North Country Cheviots. The Reserve Supreme Champion went to James Danforth with his Charollais.

The major charity the Sheep Fair supports is the Yorkshire Air Ambulance which, since 1985, has benefitted from more than £100,000, however other local organisations are also beneficiaries.

Next year's Sheep Fair will be on September 28 and 29.