The RUAS will decide over the coming weeks on whether or not to extend the current Balmoral Show schedule to a fourth day, according to the organisation’s chief executive Colin McDonald.
“The matter will be put before Council members during April. If the decision is made to push ahead with a four-day event, the changes will apply from 2017 onwards,” he said.
McDonald admitted that Saturday, more than likely, would be the final day of the show if the envisaged scheduling changes are accepted. He also believes that the development of Balmoral Show into a four-day event would be extremely positive.
“In the first instance, it would allow people who cannot fit-in with our current schedule to get along to the event,” he said.
“And this would include visitors with both a farming and non-farming background. But, obviously, any changes that are agreed must fit in with the requirements of both livestock and commercial trade exhibitors. Without them we would have no show at all.”
Meanwhile, RUAS finance director Theresa Morrissey has confirmed that visitor numbers to Balmoral Show are on the rise.
“Last year saw in excess of 90,000 people take part in the event at Balmoral Park,” she said.
“This is well up on the numbers that would have attended when the show was held at the King’s Hall site in Belfast.”
Both McDonald and Morrissey were commenting prior to the RUAS hosting its annual meeting for 2016. The event was held at the King’s Hall in Belfast yesterday (Friday March 4th). It saw RUAS Finance Committee Chairman, Cyril Millar, reporting on the society’s business during the financial year to 31st October 2015.
He indicated that “the society is in the midst of a period of significant progress and this is reflected in the financial statements which are presented today.”
Mr Millar stated that in the last financial year “the society returned a net incoming resources of £2,853,720 excluding the gain on the revaluation of fixed assets. This compares favourably with the deficit of £283,475 in the previous year, a reassuring improvement of £3,137,195. This improvement was anticipated in the society’s financial projections for this financial period.
“Furthermore the assets of the society have risen in value by £11,887,012 reflecting the strong appeal of this locality to developers and the investment made by the society in terms of the preparations undertaken prior to bringing the sites to market.”
During the annual meeting Mr Millar referred to the funds used, commenting “the society’s additional tangible fixed assets incurred during the year included the reclassification of Balmoral Park development which was previously designated as on-going projects within current assets. Future development at Balmoral Park will be phased in line with the receipts from the residential development at the King’s Hall Complex.”
When discussing charitable activities Mr Millar said “reviewing the society’s financial activities we note that the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society expensed £2,373,660 on charitable activities and these activities generated total revenues of £2,302,883 generating a deficit of £70,777 which is an improvement of £190,637 on the previous year’s result. The core charitable activities of the society remain the delivery of its agri-events.”
In considering the two annual shows, Mr Millar stated: “The 29th Royal Ulster Winter Fair in December 2014 retained its position as the premier dairy event on the Island of Ireland. It was the last society agri-event to be held at the King’s Hall Complex. It was an extremely successful event with the demand for trade space at a record high and with exhibitors reporting significant levels of commercial activity.
“The society held its 147th Balmoral Show during May 2015. The third Balmoral Show at Balmoral Park was a great success with livestock entry levels remaining high and attendance reaching record levels.
“The new location enabled the show to increase the level of trade exhibitors to approximately 600 including a significant presence from the plant and machinery sector.”