We talk to ex­hibitors mak­ing last-minute prepa­ra­tions and pre­view day one of com­pe­ti­tion

Belfast Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - BY LINDA STE­WART

PEDI­GREE pigs and poul­try, toy trac­tors and tray­bakes — the Bal­moral Show is cel­e­brat­ing a very spe­cial birth­day as it kicks off this morn­ing.

Thou­sands of vis­i­tors will de­scend on Bal­moral Park near Lis­burn to­day as the Royal Ul­ster Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety cel­e­brates the 150th an­niver­sary of the pres­ti­gious agri­cul­tural show — the big­gest in Ire­land.

Breed­ers were busy blowdry­ing cows and primp­ing up poul­try yes­ter­day as they pre­pared for the ar­rival of the judges.

Coote Gee­lan (63), from Leitrim, was hop­ing for suc­cess as he pre­pared his Here­fords, Bal­ti­more Ann and Bal­ti­more Tora, for the show.

“In 2008, Tora’s mother was ju­nior re­serve cham­pion,” he said.

“We started show­ing cat­tle af­ter the foot-and-mouth out­break. We wouldn’t want to miss the show.”

Mean­while, Barney O’Kane (67) of Keadyview Cat­tle in Gar­vagh was care­fully blowdry­ing his pedi­gree Li­mousin cow.

“It’s a good week. I’ve been show­ing here for the last 30 years,” he said.

“The fa­cil­i­ties are class. You walk out the gate and you are in the field — ev­ery­thing is all at your hand. You couldn’t ask for any bet­ter.”

Dig­gers, cherry pick­ers and ice-cream vans were un­der­go­ing a fi­nal pol­ish in prepa­ra­tion for the on­rush of the crowds, while a small crew was scrub­bing down the big wheel in the fair­ground.

To co­in­cide with the fourth and fi­nal day of the show this Satur­day, the or­gan­is­ers have promised a live screen­ing of the royal wedding in a spe­cial cov­ered area of the show­grounds at Bal­moral Park.

Rhonda Geary, RUAS Op­er­a­tions Direc­tor said: ‘We at the Royal Ul­ster Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety are very ex­cited about the royal wedding and we’re delighted to be able to celebrate it in such a spe­cial way at our show this year.

“As a Royal Show, it’s fit­ting that we celebrate this spe­cial oc­ca­sion and so we have put plans in place so vis­i­tors can en­joy the fi­nal day of our 150th Show and also en­joy watch­ing the royal wedding live.”

The show will once again run over four days, fol­low­ing the suc­cess of 2017. This year, it is also set to ex­tend in size, as a new, per­ma­nent cov­ered ex­hi­bi­tion space com­ple­ment­ing the ex­ist­ing Eikon Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre

❝ Whether your in­ter­est is farm­ing, lo­cal food or fam­ily fun, the show still de­liv­ers a unique day out BAL­MORAL RE­SULTS AND RE­PORTS IN­SIDE THE BELFAST TELE­GRAPH TO­MOR­ROW Two farm­ing women tell of fam­ily life on the land

will of­fer 4,000 sqm of ad­di­tional ex­hi­bi­tion space. The Dr EF Lo­gan Hall will house the cat­tle through­out the 2018 event, re­plac­ing the for­mer cat­tle mar­quee. RUAS chief ex­ec­u­tive Alan Crowe said last year’s vis­i­tor num­bers reached an all-time high. “This is a very spe­cial year as we celebrate this land­mark an­niver­sary and hope that vis­i­tors will en­joy com­mem­o­rat­ing with us,” he said. “Although there have been sig­nif­i­cant changes in the past 150 years, the essence of Bal­moral

Show has very much re­mained the same.

“Whether your in­ter­est is farm­ing, lo­cal food, shop­ping or fam­ily fun, the show con­tin­ues to de­liver a unique day out and that’s what con­tin­ues to bring vis­i­tors back year on year and has al­lowed the event to reach this milestone.” Avid show-go­ers will be able to soak up a bit of nos­tal­gia as they visit the spe­cial an­niver­sary mar­quee which al­lows vis­i­tors to jour­ney through the last 150 shows.

The ex­hi­bi­tion will in­clude ar­chive pho­tog­ra­phy, a timeline, arte­facts and sou­venirs de­tail­ing the his­tory of the show.

Along with nu­mer­ous live­stock classes, the show of­fers more than 650 trade stands, while the NI Food Pavil­ion will show­case the very best of lo­cal food and drink.

Show-go­ers can down­load the Bal­moral Show 2018 app, for all the lat­est in­for­ma­tion and upto-date an­nounce­ments on the show as well as a site map and off­line stand lo­cater, day plan­ner and the handy ‘Find my Car’ func­tion.

One pri­mary school pupil from Ty­rone has fended off com­pe­ti­tion from hun­dreds of fel­low pupils across North­ern Ire­land to take on the role of the first of­fi­cial Ul­ster Bank Bal­moral Show Cor­re­spon­dent. Elevenyear-old Hay­den Conaty (right), from Mc­Clin­tock Pri­mary School in Se­ski­nore, is the over­all win­ner of the first-of-its-kind com­pe­ti­tion run by Ul­ster Bank, prin­ci­pal spon­sor of the Bal­moral Show, and the Royal Ul­ster Agri­cul­tural So­ci­ety (RUAS).

The or­gan­is­ers are urg­ing vis­i­tors to plan their jour­ney in or­der to ar­rive in good time and re­lax.

Vis­i­tors are en­cour­aged to avoid peak travel time and make their jour­ney to the show af­ter the open­ing time of 9.30am. Shuttle bus pas­sen­gers are also en­cour­aged to pre-book their show ticket and se­nior smart­pass cus­tomers can take ad­van­tage of their free travel on sched­uled ser­vices to get to the event.

Spe­cial coach day re­turn tours are avail­able and Tran­slink is pro­vid­ing a free Tran­slink shuttle bus ser­vice run­ning be­tween Lis­burn train sta­tion and the show­grounds.

PE­TER MOR­RI­SON/PRESSEYE

Agoat feed­ing on some straw and (above) Rhonda Geary Clock­wise from main: Barney O’Kane comb­ing his pedi­gree live­stock; Emily Magowan and her horse Pa­trick; work­ers add the fin­ish­ing touches ahead of the open­ing of the show; Coote Gee­lan wash­ing his Here­ford heifer, and an ae­rial view

For more in­for­ma­tion, vis­it­bal­moral­show. co.uk and tran­slink. co.uk/bal­moral­show2018

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