IT was the end of an era on Saturday when several Skipton Gala stalwarts called it a day.

The show, which enjoyed record crowds and a dry, sunny day, was the last for Geoff Dunn, gala chairman, who is standing down after 30 years, along with treasurer Michelle Marren and committee member Nicola Spurgeon. It was also the last for Roger Ingham, who has helped out at the event for 70 years, including a spell as chairman in the 1980s.

Geoff said it had been a fitting last gala for the few volunteers who had run the event on their own for several years, adding he would do his best to make sure the event did not die out.

"It was a record crowd, I don't remember seeing the field as full as it was on Saturday, it was absolutely marvellous and seemed to go down very, very well," he said.

Following rain on Friday, Saturday turned out fine and dry, providing the perfect conditions for the procession of walking groups and decorated wagons as it made its way from Westmoreland Street to the gala field in Aireville Park.

A packed High Street cheered the organisations and school groups, led by the Jamba Samba drummers, and also including Silsden All Stars Majorettes, Craven Gymnastics group, Sheldons Performing Arts, and Unique Dance; with Skipton Fire Station at the rear. The police stepped in to help out with the road closures.

Chris Dawson, on the High Street, said: "It's always a fun celebration of Skipton life, my children just wish it went on longer and had dancing clowns. The procession was great though, a real tradition, and of course, everyone loves the fair."

Skipton's deputy mayor, Winston Feather, said it was a privilege to stand in for the mayor, Claire Nash, along with his son, Dominic.

He said: "Wow, what a day. The crowd was massive and lined the streets for the whole length of the procession, with hundreds of young children and families having a fantastic time.

"Congratulations to Geoff, Michelle and their band of volunteers. Brilliant achievement! Thanks to all the emergency services and stewards in attendance. Thank you to all who provided the entertainment, including the many participants, especially those who had created the floats, the musicians, performers and stall holders in the park.

"The fun fair had something for everyone and was packed out and buzzing from the start.”

Mr Dunn, 79, revealed his intentions to stand down from the gala at last month's annual meeting of the town council. Mr Dunn, who last year was made an honorary freeman of Skipton for his commitment to the town's gala, said he was willing to carry on organising the wagons, but that it was time someone else took over the event, appealing for the town council to take it on.

Mrs Marren has said she will stay on until the end of the year, taking the gala queen to Colne Gala on Saturday, June 15, to Silsden Gala on July 28 and to Remembrance Sunday, when she will lay a wreath. She will also be organising the donation evening later in the year, when proceeds from the gala are given out.

Mr Dunn told the Craven Herald he had received encouraging noises from town councillors about the future of the event. "I am trying my best to see that the town council takes it on."