Ferret racing comes to Barnsley

26 April 2012

A Barnsley tourist attraction is turning to ferret racing to wow its visitors after its success with sprinting sheep!

Cannon Hall Farm, at Cawthorne, already has a permanent Grand National-style racecourse for sheep racing and is now creating a special arena to showcase speedy ferrets.

It will hold its first ferret races over the May Day bank holiday weekend and staff hope they will prove a big hit with families and become a regular fixture too.

Director Robert Nicholson said: “Ferrets are mischievous and have a lot of fun racing about so we thought that, after sheep racing proved one of our most popular attractions, we’d get ferrets in on the action.

“There’ll be a live commentary and ‘bookies’ kiosk where visitors will be able to choose a ferret to back and win prizes. It promises to be novel and really entertaining.” 

Four ferrets sporting different colours will line up for each race and will run through 20 metres of clear tubing. Racers lining up include Roger the Rocket, Typhoon Freddie and Walter the Whirlwind.

Eight animals in total have been trained by staff at Oxenhope’s SMJ Falconry and Craft Centre and will be tempted to the finish line by titbits.

Last year almost quarter of a million people visited Cannon Hall Farm, an increase of 11 per cent on the previous year’s visitor numbers.

The attraction opened a new £500,000 outdoor children’s playground, with a climbing forest and tube maze, and recently gained planning permission for £5 million worth of further developments over the next three years. These include a new farmyard and indoor play area as well as an extension to its tearoom and a new farm shop. The scheme, once complete, is expected to create 150 new jobs on top of the 160 already in place.

Ferret races will be held on May 5, 6 and 7. Spectators will pick their favourite and, after each race, all those who chose the winning ferret will be entered into a draw to win a family pass to the farm.

Participation in the races, as well as other activities like a birds of prey display by SMJ, is free with farm admission. For more information about the farm call 01226 790427 or visit www.cannonhallfarm.co.uk

NOTES TO EDITORS:

There is opportunity on May 4 to film and take pictures of the ferrets and the course and carry out interviews with Robert Nicholson. Please contact Robert on 01226 790427 to arrange.

For hundreds of years Cannon Hall Farm was home farm to the Cannon Hall Estate. The estate was sold by the Spencer Stanhope family in 1957 when Robert Nicholson’s grandfather Charles Nicholson paid £7,100 for land and buildings. Around the same time the hall itself was bought by Barnsley Council and turned into a museum.

Robert’s father Roger took over the farm when Charles died and, from the 1980s, it was developed for visitors. Roger and wife Cynthia are still involved in the business, along with Robert and other sons Richard and David. The working farm keeps a range of animals including cattle, pigs, donkeys, goats and llamas and baby animals are born all year round. 

Additional media contacts: Deborah Wain on 07903 466228 or at deborah@katebettsmedia.co.uk or Kate Betts on 01226 766900 or 07792 764891 or at kate@katebettsmedia.co.uk

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