THE stage is set for Skipton Auction Mart’s high profile Christmas fatstock shows, which return in their normal and ever-popular Sunday format this weekend (Nov 28).

It’s an extra-special day and the undoubted climax of the mart’s primestock year, when the region’s farmers go that extra mile to present their livestock in peak condition for the annual highlight, hoping to gain due recognition for all their hard work. They also have the opportunity to win some glittering trophies and prize money.

In turn, traditional family-run retail butchers and meat wholesalers turn up in their droves and go head-to-head as they compete to claim the cream of the region’s prime beef, lamb and pork for their customers’ Christmas tables.

As a direct result, some heady prices are often seen, in particular for show principals, while the event also provides a valuable opportunity for butchers and wholesalers to meet and chew the cud in person with farmer producers.

There are nine butchers’ prime cattle show classes for both haltered and un-haltered steers and heifers, covering all the popular breeds, with individual categories again designed to encourage farmers to bring forward more lightweight animals, which have additional appeal to retail butchers. Male, female and an overall supreme champion will emerge.

A supreme champion will also be crowned in the 11 butchers’ prime lamb show classes and will go to one of the victors in the three trimmed, untrimmed and hill lamb sections, again all for pens of three and covering all the well-known local lowland and hill breeds. There’s also a standalone show class for young handlers.

The annual lamb carcase competition, sponsored by the mart-based Barkers Yorkshire Butchers, has five by-weight classes for Continental, horned and native breeds, from which both supreme and reserve supreme champions will be chosen.

This section continues to go from strength to strength, proving particularly popular among regional butchers, hotels, restaurants and pubs seeking to purchase award-winning carcases for display, promotion and sale in the run up to the peak festive season trade.

Festive porkers are again in the mix, with a brace of prime pig show classes on the agenda and a champion trio emerging.

The action-packed event again features a strong Christmas charity section, with no less than 14 individual show classes - food, drink and non-food related - for both adults and children, making the day an all-round family affair.

Christmas charity section entries, along with bales of hay and haylage in the annual fodder hay competition sponsored by WBW Surveyors, will be auctioned off towards the end of the afternoon in aid of three main annual beneficiaries - Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice in Oxenhope, Brooklands Community Special School in Skipton and national farming charity, the Addington Fund. Between them over the years, the three bodies have received valuable windfalls running into many thousands of pounds since the event’s inception.

Judging commences at 11am, with sale times from 12.30pm. Styled on London’s famous former Smithfield Christmas Fatstock Show, the festive showcase has attracted multiple sponsors, with Skipton NFU again stepping in as mainline sponsor. Full catering and licensed bar facilities will be available throughout the day. Full details will be posted at www.ccm,