Raise A Glass To All Things Yorkshire

Folks in Yorkshire are famous for their county pride. And, for nearly 40 years, the integrity of the big and beautiful county of Yorkshire has been celebrated annually, without fail, on August 1. This day of pride, festivity, food, drink, revelry, friendship and historic commemoration is known as Yorkshire Day.

For four days from Thursday, August 1, Yorkshire will give itself an almighty pat on the back and, with rosy (excuse the pun) cheeks, raise a glass to all things its own for Yorkshire Day 2013. There will be events across the county – with the lion’s share of the focus this year on host town Skipton, where the official celebrations will be held.

So why August 1? And why a Yorkshire Day? Other counties don’t have special days (well, a couple do, but most don’t so I’ll move on). In fact, the date was already a celebrated one, marked by the Light Infantry as Minden Day to commemorate the Battle of Minden, when the Allied army defeated the French.  As it now exists, Yorkshire Day was initially celebrated in Beverley near Hull in 1975, intended as a protest against the Local Government re-organisation of 1974. It took the date of August 1 in a nod to the Battle of Minden, and has remained on that date ever since.

But back to the present, and to the – hopefully – sunny celebrations of Yorkshire’s heritage ahead. Interestingly, Skipton is constructing an Urban Beach for the Yorkshire Day 2013 event; something which should attract the throngs if the current glorious weather holds up. Not least because the occasion is a great pull for the proud Yorkshire men and women of, I am sure, all ages; but also largely because all British people are drawn like Magpies to a sunny day by the water: whether they choose to get in it or not! It is a stroke of genius on the part of the organisers to turn Skipton’s canal basin into a beach fantasy complete with deckchairs, rock, boat trips and candy floss just for the weekend. Let’s keep everything crossed that the famously unpredictable northern weather pulls off a similar stroke of genius on the day!

Alongside the Urban Beach, the programme for Yorkshire Day 2013 weekend in Skipton reads diversely: there is the usual, and one might say entirely necessary, Civic Parade (an historic occasion could not go by without one), music from a Military Band, a talk on Skipton’s Heritage and, additionally, a talk from former Dalesman editor W.R.Mitchell. There will be family crafts at the Craven Museum and a Wilds Wood Walk should keep some of the more active children (and parents!) happy. There will also be things to do at the castle and the High Street looks as though it will be buzzing with activity.

All weekend, from Thursday to Sunday, it seems there will be something to tempt visitors of varied tastes: should you wish for a day to quietly contemplate Yorkshire’s glorious, and oft hard-fought, past, or an exciting and adrenaline-packed day during which to salute it, you will have quite the smorgasbord from which to select your activity.

There are also events taking place across Yorkshire, including the Yorkshire Day Food Market at Castle Howard in York and Yorkshire Day at Wentbridge House in Pontefract.

This latter charity event will run from midday to 7pm, is free to enter and invites families to enjoy a wonderful day out in aid of Yorkshire Air Ambulance and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. There will be a birds of prey display, wine tasting, a teddy bears picnic, a hog roast, chef displays vintage cars and – fascinatingly – a cupcake challenge!

Should you wish to, you will also be able to enjoy a paid-for afternoon tea, or lunch with live piano music – both advance booking only.

The sense of enthusiasm and pride running through this upcoming Yorkshire Day 2013 weekend seems palpable; and is truly joyful. It is a great dose of positivity, and one I am more than happy to share.

In researching this event, I discovered – with some intrigue – that each year, members of the Yorkshire Ridings Society read a declaration of the integrity of Yorkshire at four of the Bars of York. The reading goes thus:

“I, (name), being a resident of the [West/North/East] Riding of Yorkshire [or City of York] declare:
That Yorkshire is three Ridings and the City of York, with these Boundaries of 1134 years standing; 
That the address of all places in these Ridings is Yorkshire;

That all persons born therein or resident therein and loyal to the Ridings are Yorkshiremen and women;
That any person or corporate body which deliberately ignores or denies the aforementioned shall forfeit all claim to Yorkshire status.
These declarations made this Yorkshire Day [year]. God Save the Queen!”

Yorkshire takes true delight in its achievements, its people, its history – and its mere existence. I truly hope it has a wonderful celebration on Yorkshire Day 2013, and that all who attend find a bright bloom on their rose.

Editor: Helen Bee Greener