THE management team at the RUAS has confirmed that the 2013 Balmoral Show will definitely go ahead at its new home – Balmoral Park – on the outskirts of Lisburn on Wednesday May 15th through to Friday May 17th.
Meanwhile the development of the required infrastructure, in and around the new site, continues apace. RUAS chief executive Colin McDonald told Farming Life earlier this week that the new road into and out of the site, which will connect with the M1 near Sprucefield, should be completed by 2015.
“Of course, this all depends on the required planning consents being obtained. The new stretch of dual carriageway will be 800 metres in length and – when completed – will transform the accessibility of the Maze site,” he said.
“Other issues at the top of our priority list at the present time include the construction of sufficient parking space to meet our long term needs.
“Once all of the core infrastructural elements have been put in place, then we can set about developing the ‘Centre of Rural Excellence, which will be at the very heart of the new Balmoral for many years to come.”
In the meantime all of the envisaged trade exhibitors and livestock ‘turning up’ for Balmoral 2013, will be housed under canvas for the three days of the event.
“We have ordered in approximately 20,000 square feet of marquee space,” confirmed RUAS operations director Rhonda Geary.
“This is equivalent to the space previously encompassed by the King’s Hall and the Nugent Hall. So we will be well catered for in this regard.
“Over the past number of months, there has been a tremendous amount of work undertaken by both the RUAS management team and the various organising committees that are at the working heart of every Balmoral Show. As a consequence I can confirm that there will be an enhanced number of classes within each livestock category, catalogued for next year’s show.”
Mr McDonald, however, takes great exception to the suggestion that his management team will only get one chance when it comes to successfully managing the transition of Balmoral Show from Belfast to the Maze.
“In the first instance, the show is not just a physical manifestation of trade stands and livestock exhibits,” he stressed.
“Yes that’s part of it. But the real magic and atmosphere is created by the people who take part in the event. And we will be doing everything that we can to get as many people as possible to come along and enjoy Balmoral 2013 and the many annual shows that will take place thereafter.”
But Mr McDonald does admit that the development of the King’s Hall site, in tandem with the move to the Maze, represents a jigsaw with quite a number of pieces. First up in this regard is the Royal Ulster Winter Fair, taking place in the new ‘King’s Hall Pavilions’ at Balmoral, next Thursday – December 13th.
“This will be the first time the agri public will have seen what we have been doing at Balmoral since the decision was taken to push ahead with the Legacy Project,” he commented.
“To date, all of the mood music regarding the development of the new exhibition centre has been positive. But the acid test will come next Thursday. If the farmers and exhibitors attending the Winter Fair feel that we have managed to get phase one of the overall project right, then it will boost their confidence regarding the prospects for next year’s Balmoral Show.”