THOUSANDS of people turned out on Saturday for the first Skipton Gala since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Geoff Dunn, gala president, thanked all those who defied a mixed weather forecast to support the event, last held in 2019, and said how it had brought him to tears.

“I was very surprised by the turnout, there were lots of people about, the turnout at the procession brought tears to my eyes, I’d really like to thank everyone for coming out and supporting the gala,” he said.

The procession started in its usual place, Westmoreland Street before winding its way to the High Street and up to Holy Trinity Church before heading down Mill Bridge and onto Gargrave Road to the gala field, Aireville Park.

Those taking part included several businesses, drama group, Skipton Musical Theatre Group, Skipton and Grassington firefighters, Skipton Rugby Club and Embsay and Eastby Pre School, the only school to take part. There was also vintage tractors, charitable organisations , the Jamba Samba marching band, and brothers, James and John Brown.

The procession was headed by gala queen Emily Dollard, and also included other gala queens from Silsden, Colne and Carleton. Craven Gymnastics Club put on acrobatic displays to the delighted crowds lining the route, while others threw sweets or drenched the spectators with water pistols from decorated waggons.

Members of Skipton Musical Theatre Group put on such a convincing performance of their current show ‘Made in Dagenham’ - due to be performed at The Mart Theatre in late October, that some thought they were making an actual political protest.

At the gala field, families enjoyed the delights of Marshall Waddington’s funfair and attractions in the arena including comm unity drumming from Jamba Samba, gymnastics, and a daredevil acrobatic show featuring Superman and Spiderman. After their shows, the superheroes posed for photographs with their many young fans.

There was also Ambtition Gymnastics, plenty to eat and drink, and the day ended with a fireworks display.

Elaine Hennessy, from Pateley Bridge, there with her young family, said: “We took a chance with the weather and I’m so glad we did, the procession through the town centre was a lot bigger than I thought it would be.

“We walked up to the park and the kids have loved the fair rides. The superman and spiderman show was great, they said how they wouldn’t be able to do it if it rained, but it was fine. We ve had a great day.”

Gala treasurer, Michelle Michelle Marren said organising the event had been a struggle with just four people on the committee, but she was very pleased to see that so many people had come along.

“I’m so glad people have come out to support us, it’s been a really good turn out,” she said.

She was pleased with the number of floats and walking groups in the procession and paid special tribute to Embsay with Eastby Pre-School, the only school to take part, and the very enthusiastic Skipton RUFC Juniors for a really big effort.

Michelle, who joined the organising committee in 2017, said this year’s event had suffered because of a lack of volunteers, despite several appeals for help earlier in the year.

It meant there was no programme this year, a main fundraiser. Skipton Town Council had looked after the road closures for the procession and she hoped next year there would be support for the event by both the town council and Skipton BID.

There was no sponsorship from programme sponsorship this year, which meant the event had wiped out any remaining funds.

Those attending the event were asked for donations of £1 and any profits will be donated to local good causes. Anyone could apply to the gala committee, and money will be distributed later this year.

Some later took to social media to complain that the gala was ‘not what it once was’.

In response, the committee said: “It mainly comes down to volunteers and money. The gala committee needs volunteers to run the gala. The individual groups need volunteers to keep their groups running and to take part in the gala.

“Businesses have struggled this year due in part to Covid and therefore could not commit to support us, and school groups can’t afford the ever increasing cost of insurance for the event.

“We are a very small committee and would dearly love to run a procession worthy of past processions and to do that, we need the people of Skipton to come and all help. We love to get new ideas and the passion that new people bring to us.”

Following a post event gala committee, members will have a short break before getting together again in September for planning Skipton Gala 2023. To help, email