Saturday will become the new Friday at Balmoral Show, according to RUAS chief executive Colin McDonald.
“All of the championship finals that would have normally taken place on the Friday will now be held on Saturday,” he said.
“We are also adding an expanded list of livestock and other show classes to ensure a full catalogue of events is realised for the first three day of the show in 2017.”
Next year will see Balmoral Show taking place over four days – Wednesday May 10th to Saturday May 13th.
Traditionally, the event has followed a three day format.
“The society has agreed to trial the four day format during 2017 and 2018,” said Mr McDonald.
“This decision was taken in light of the overwhelming evidence, which confirms that many people cannot fall in with the Wednesday to Friday timings because of work and family commitments.
“The Saturday has been added to the show schedule to accommodate what will be a new grouping of visitors coming to the show.
“We will carry out extensive market research over the next two years to assess the impact that we have actually achieved in this regard.”
Mr McDonald denied that significant numbers of livestock and trade exhibitors had objected to the new four day Balmoral Show format.
“This is not the case,” he stressed.
“All the expressions of interest received up to this point have been extremely positive. I can confirm that Saturday at Balmoral will fully reflect the breadth of show classes, events and trade exhibits that visitors would expect to see, irrespective of what day they wish to come along.”
Mr McDonald said that the success of the new Balmoral Show will be assessed from the perspective of visitors plus the trade and livestock exhibitors taking part.
“The key question for each grouping is: has the show experience been enhanced? Adding numbers to the gate is only one element of the equation to be balanced moving forward.”
Mr McDonald confirmed that the RUAS is committed to an ongoing investment programme at Balmoral Park at the Maze.
“Our next project is the doubling of the exhibition area at the Eikon Centre.
“The facility currently boasts 5,000m² of trade space. We hope to double this over the next 12 months.
Designs of the extended Eikon are currently being drawn up. We hope to get planning permission early next year with the expanded Eikon up and running for the 2017 Winter Fair.”
Mr McDonald explained that the expanded exhibition facility will help attract a selection of the UK’s largest event companies to Northern Ireland.
“The ongoing sale of houses at the King’s Hall site will fund the expansion planned for the Eikon Centre,” he said.