High-profile figures across Yorkshire spoke of their pride in the county as today's Yorkshire Day celebrations got underway.
For many, it may be a day to celebrate the traditional symbols of Yorkshire - fish and chips, flat caps, Yorkshire puddings and real ale.
But, today, residents of God's Own County can also reflect on a 12 months that propelled Yorkshire onto the World stage and perhaps started to shape a new image of the White Rose county thanks to the publicity accompanying the glitzy success of the Tour de France.
Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said “I’ll certainly be sharing in the celebrations of what we have achieved this year – along with proud Yorkshiremen across the land, I’m sure.
Yorkshire Day was first held in 1975 and was the idea of the Yorkshire Ridings Society. The date of August 1 was chosen because historically this was when the integrity of the county was declared in York each year. The date is also the anniversary of The Battle of The Minden which took place in 1759 during the Seven Years War. The Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry fought with an allied force to defeat the French.
Tony Wright, from the Bradford band Terrovision, said the county should be celebrating the success of the Grand Depart: “Everything we saw at the Tour de France showed the best aspects of Yorkshire: the moors, the people. They’re great.”
Mr Wright added that he will be celebrating the traditional symbols of the county today. “I might be eating a Yorkshire pudding and wearing a flat Cap,” he said.
But Mr Verity, the man who came up with the idea of a Tour de France Grand Depart in Yorkshire, believes we have so many new and innovative events to celebrate that we can forget the old clichés
He said: “When we created Welcome to Yorkshire nearly six years ago, we did so because we wanted to change perceptions of the county. The Tramlines festival in Sheffield personifies that new Yorkshire: young, raw, dynamic and exciting. Our Michelin starred chefs out cooking the rest of the country. Our athletes beating whole countries in the 2012 Olympic Games, Hull being the UK City of Culture in 2017 and of course, the county’s crowning glory of recent times, the Tour de France and how the people of Yorkshire made it one of the most successful sporting events ever to be held in the UK.
Speaking of the way the Tour de France had given a great boost to the county's status, Mr Verity said: “Yorkshire is undoubtedly on the map globally now and thanks to that amazing weekend on 5th and 6th July, the lazy stereotypes of it being 'grim up north' should finally have been put to bed.
“There is nothing in the UK that comes close to the brand power of Yorkshire at the moment. We are rightfully at the forefront of everyone’s minds and we have done it with little support from central Government to really promote the county to its fullest and help rebalance the economy away from London, which is part of the Government’s stated aims for tourism.”
Billy Pearce, Bradford Alhambra’s ‘panto king’, said the cycling "brought it home" how beautiful it is.
He said: "I am very proud to be a Yorkshireman and it was great for Yorkshire.”
Keith Madeley, chairman of the Yorkshire Society, affectionately known as ‘Mr Yorkshire’, feels that there are going to be real economic benefits for the county: “There is so much to celebrate, there is so much going on. The tour has had a very positive effect. Hotels in the Wharfe valley are reporting increased bookings from people wanting to cycle the Tour de France route. It showed Yorkshire at its best and the weather was good.”
Asked what aspects of the county we should be celebrating today, most people agree that friendliness is a key aspect of Yorkshire. Duncan Preston, who plays Doug Potts in ITV’s Emmerdale, said: “I’ve moved back up here because I like the people, and the fish and chips are second to none. I’m delighted to be back where my roots are.” He has no doubts about how best to mark the occasion: “I might have a couple of pints of ale in the evening,” he said.
Welcome to Yorkshire has compiled four ‘delicious trails’ to celebrate all that is best about food and drink in the county. There is an Ale Trail, a Tea Trail, a Fish and Chip Trail and a Deli to Dairy Trail which suggest routes between the best establishments that Yorkshire has to offer.
Officially, the day will be marked by a gathering of Mayors and Lord Mayors, which this year takes place in South Kirkby near Pontefract. There will be a local church service conducted by the Bishop of Pontefract, the Right Rev Tony Robinson followed by Lunch at the town hall featuring a locally sourced menu.
Mr Madeley said “Bradford should host the official celebrations again, it last did so in 2005, it is so popular it is booked up for the next few years, but there is an opportunity to host it in 2020.’ The popularity and fame of the day is spreading he added: “Yorkshire people in New Zealand will be making Skype contact with the official dinner in South Kirkby to personally wish them a Happy Yorkshire Day. And on Sunday a town in New Zealand will be having a fish and chip Sunday Lunch.”