This year’s Castlewellan Show on July 16th looks set for another busy year as entries begin to flow in.
The events include over 300 classes for cattle, horses/donkeys, goats, pigs, sheep, poultry, dog agility, rabbits and home industries.
The launch night in the beautiful setting of Castlewellan Castle was very well attended. Guests were entertained by Big O from Q radio, with guest speakers, journalist and broadcaster Karen Patterson, Gillian Fitzpatrick Vice Chair of Newry Mourne & Down District Council and Roberta Simmons President of YFCU. All speakers are regular Show attenders and enthused warmly of their trips to the Show over the years and the contribution it makes to the local economy. Roberta Simmons talked about her role in Young Farmers and the increasing importance of the organisation in times when farming is struggling with many farm families working in other areas part time.
Show Secretary Jackie Fitzpatrick was delighted to announce that Castlewellan Show is part of the NI Year of Food and Drink and will be promoting local produce in the Gourmet Food tent with cookery demonstrations and a range of stalls. She also thanked all of the sponsors large and small without which the Show could not run.
Chairperson Frances McAlinden praised the work of the committee and welcomed the securing of the ISA Colt/Gelding Final for the second year running which proves the popularity of competing at the show from both the North and South.
The native and traditional breeds cattle section this year is once again proving popular and is an important way to promote the more rarer and re-established breeds. A new standalone class for Dexter cattle is a welcome contribution. A strong field is expected for the beef championship with Ger Ryan from Cork doing the judging. Castlewellan is delighted to host the Ulster Championship for Aberdeen Angus classes for 2016. The dairy section goes from strength to strength with great interest to date.
Castlewellan continues to be the largest one day sheep show, with over 700 entries last year and a new inaugural Northern Ireland Zwartbles Branch National Show will spark additional interest. The inter breed final is predicted to be the most competitive yet and the young handlers competition always brings forward some new talent. The committee are excited to be hosting the only qualifier for the UK National Golden Fleece competition, the winner of which will compete against fleeces from Scotland, England and Wales.
Within the goat section, a new pygmy goat class has been included which will attract lots of onlookers as well as competitors. The poultry section includes over 130 classes so plenty of choice. While the pig section is small, it always proves popular with show goers, particularly the rare breeds. The rabbits were a big draw for exhibitors and visitors last year and the committee are expecting a large number of entries. The dog agility events have grown over the years with David Duncan once again in charge of proceedings and Kirsty Jess in judging mode.
Castlewellan continues to attract large numbers of horses, ranging from miniature to agricultural horses with classes and qualifiers throughout the day for Non Thoroughbred, Half Bred, Irish draughts, hunters, ponies, donkey and hackney classes. Once again Mossvale Riding Club will facilitate a range of classes in the unaffiliated show jumping and entry is on the day.
The most popular tent on Show Day is home industries with art, baking, crafts, knitting, photography and jams galore. This year the show is hosting the Co. Down final of the Chocolate Cake of the Year. The local Women’s Institutes have been challenged to produce a display with the theme of ‘A Day at the Races’. Families have a chance to show their talents to come up with the best scarecrow and there will be the small pets’ competition on the day. This year the committee are introducing a charity class to support people with dementia. These patients often have restless hands and like to have something to keep their hands occupied. The knitted muff with items attached is something they can twiddle with in their hands no matter if they are in hospital or at home. The entries will be donated to AGE NI Castlewellan Day Centre and will be distributed to people in the area.
The deadline for all entries is June 20th. The Show is also accepting applications for trade stands in the gourmet food tent as well as the outdoor space. With over 10,000 people expected on Show Day, it offers a great opportunity to promote local enterprise. You can download entry and booking forms for all of the classes from www.castlewellanshow.com and follow the show on facebook and twitter @CastlewellanSho for updates.