CROWDS flocked to Masham Sheep Fair, which returned to the historic market town after coronavirus forced the cancellation of last year's event.

"It was wonderful," said organiser Susan Cunliffe Lister. "Everyone was so pleased to be out, to see everybody to watch the sheep and generally, just to be able to come together."

Hundreds of sheep competed for the rosettes and cups, with 30 different breeds being brought from all over the north to the town. The fair was resurrected by Ms Cunliffe Lister and a team of volunteers more than 30 years ago – the ancient event would see up to 70,000 sheep and lambs brought into the town to be sold before winter set in.

It was originally held to raise money for farms in Africa and has developed to help local charities and groups, raising more than £158,000 for many local good causes. In recent years, a large part has gone to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, with £7,500 donated from the last fair.

While many rural events and shows have been cancelled again this year because of coronavirus, Ms Cunliffe Lister said organisers were determined to go ahead this year and the format of the fair worked really well in their favour.

"We don't have to pay out for marquees and tents, it's mostly held in the market square with fences and pens and as long as the weather is good to us it works really well," she said. "So as the sun shone it was a very successful weekend, it was beautiful."

Alongside the sheep fair, there was sheep racing and a sheepdog and duck demonstration, children's events, the Bishop Blaize procession and a flower display in St Mary's Church.

Plans are already underway for the 2022 fair with the weekend of September 24 and 25 already earmarked.