SKIPTON Auction Mart’s keynote Christmas primestock show and sale day, when traditional family-run retail butchers and meat wholesalers from both sides of the border compete to claim the pick of the region’s prime beef, lamb and pork for their customers’ festive tables, takes place this Sunday.

The annual ‘Lingfield’ highlight represents the climax of the mart’s primestock year, when leading farmers go to great lengths to have their livestock in peak condition for the high profile fixture, which regularly sees heady prices, in particular for show principals.

Last year’s prime cattle supreme champion from Bordley’s John Stephenson sold for top call of £2,726, or £4.70 per kilo, to Kitson & Sons Butchers, while the supreme champion prime lambs, a pen of three from Ian Lancaster, of Wiswell, Clitheroe, also headed the section prices when falling for £500 each to George Cropper Jnr for his Sandersons Butchers shop in Baxenden.

In addition, Kitson & Sons, which has four north-east shops, including the flagship Five Houses Farm Shop and Kitchen in Crathorne, paid a new centre record high price for pigs of £5 per kilo, or £436.50 each, for the champion trio from Fewston farmer Daniel Thackray. It was also believed to be the most paid for prime porkers anywhere in the UK last year.

Both Kitsons and Sandersons later reported that their Skipton acquisitions had proved extremely popular among customers old and new, and both are expected to return this weekend with a view to purchasing more top-notch primestock.

So, too, are past prize-winning farmers and other hopefuls looking to gain due recognition for all their hard work. They also have the opportunity to win some glittering trophies and prize money.

The 15 butchers’ prime cattle show classes for both haltered and un-haltered steers and heifers cover all the popular breeds, with individual categories again designed to encourage farmers to bring forward more lightweight animals, which have enhanced appeal to retail butchers.

Eleven butchers’ prime lamb show classes, all for pens of three, both trimmed and untrimmed, again cover all the well-known local lowland and hill breeds. Both sections feature standalone show classes for young handlers.

The annual lamb carcase competition, sponsored by Barkers Yorkshire Butchers, has six by-weight classes for Continental, Swaledale, Dalesbred and other native and hill breeds. It continues to go from strength to strength among regional butchers, hotels, restaurants and pubs looking to buy award-winning carcases for display, promotion and sale in the run up to Christmas. Giggleswick’s John and Alison North were supreme champions last year, their carcase selling for top price of £420.

Once again, the day features a strong charity element, with an increased offering this year of 18 show classes, both food and non-food related, and for both adults and children, along with the annual fodder hay competition.

Christmas charity section entries will be auctioned off towards the end of the afternoon in aid of the mart’s three main annual beneficiaries, Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice in Oxenhope, Brooklands Community Special School in Skipton and national farming charity, the Addington Fund, who between them have received many thousands of pounds since the event’s inception. Last year, over £3,750 was raised.

The annual festive showcase - judging starts at 11am, with sale times from 12.30pm – also provides an opportunity for butchers and wholesalers to meet and chat in person with farmer producers. Multiple sponsors are offering support, with Skipton NFU again the mainline sponsor.

Styled on London’s famous former Smithfield Christmas Fatstock Show, members of the public are welcome to attend, with full catering and licensed bar facilities available throughout the day.