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