A COOL cloudy morning made way for bright blue skies and sunshine as thousands flocked to enjoy the first day of the Great Yorkshire Show.

Around 130,000 people are expected to pour through the gates at the Harrogate showground for the three-day spectacular celebrating farming and country living.

More than 8,500 animals are competing for the all-important rosettes and cups, with sheep, cattle and horse classes overwhelmed and a record three national Beef Championships being held at the show.

This year marks the 160th anniversary of the event and show director Charles Mills said: “We think every year is special but the anniversary does add to the event in many ways that we have progressed to where we are.

“What we are most concerned about is that people come and enjoy themselves and see what is on offer.”

Mr Mills said this year’s weather was a major challenge for show organisers and for farmers and breeders, first with the Beast from the East and freezing weather well into spring, and then the soaring temperatures of June.

He said: “We have had to bring in a lot of water and the fact that it has cooled down and is set to stay cool for the next three days is a bonus.

“It helps not only the visitors but the animals as well who need to be in peak condition so they can be shown at their best.”

Away from the animals there are a multitude of attractions to enjoy, from fashion shows, to cookery demonstrations and celebrity guests.

One familiar face soaking up the atmosphere was Countryfile presenter Anita Rani.

Born and bred in Bradford, the popular television presenter said her first time at the Great Yorkshire Show ‘felt like a homecoming’.

She added: “It is a real celebration, especially being in Yorkshire, we have got such a strong sense of identity and it is the most beautiful county - and I have been to a lot of counties, so I have done my research!

“I spend a lot of my time in London now, but I am always banging the drum for the North down there.”

Ms Rani was one of the celebrities taking part in a fashion show alongside Olympic showjumper Graham Fletcher,

TV presenters Jon Mitchell and John Shires and singer Lizzie Jones.

Halifax-born Ms Jones lost her rugby player husband Danny in 2015 when he suffered a cardiac arrest and has since sung at Wembley.

On Tuesday she became the first singer to perform at the Great Yorkshire Show’s main ring in its 160-year history.

She said: “I am very privileged to be the first, it is a real honour. I am used to stepping out on pitches, but this is a different vibe and it is just wonderful when people stop in their tracks to listen.”

Another familiar face enjoying the show was Emmerdale’s Eric Pollard, actor Chris Chittell.

A regular visitor to the event, Mr Chittell said the show it was a great opportunity for farmers ‘to remind Joe Public what farming is all about and the respect that you should be giving to the land’.