Agricultural shows are playing a greater role than ever within all our rural communities, according to Northern Ireland Shows Association (NISA) chairman Bill Leeman.
He was speaking at last weekend’s Antrim Show, which hosted two of the association’s flagship event finals: the McLarnon’s sponsored Dairy Cow of the Year and the Danske Bank sponsored Ewe Championship.
“Increasingly, rural communities are taking greater ownership of their local shows. And this is mirrored in the significantly increased number of exhibitors and competors taking part in all our events this year,” he said.
“Crowd numbers are also well up at all the events held in 2015. And, I firmly believe that all of this bodes well for the future of the agricultural show circuit.
“This year’s Antrim Show is a perfect example of this progress. The organising team has put in an enormous amount of work to develop a tremendous event, which constitutes a perfect shop window for the farming industry and our rural way of life.”
The great strides made by Dairy Shorthorn breeders over recent years were fully reflected in the victory achieved by Iain Mclean, from Bushmills, in this year’s McLarnon Feeds: NISA Dairy Cow of the Year competition. He carried the day with his elite third calver: Marleycote Sea Lily 14. Judging the class was Duncan Hunter, from Hertfordshire. He described the winning cow as an almost perfect example of the Shorthorn breed.
Duncan Hunter selected the Jersey second calver, Clandeboye Jazzi Bambi, as his runner up. He referred specifically to the strength of her mammary system.
Meanwhile, in the sheep ring, Diane Christie, from Comber, was having another tremendous day out to remember. She won the NISA: Danske Bank Ewe Championship with a three shear Charollais. The animal in question, which gave birth to triplet ewe lambs back in the Spring, had previously qualified at Lurgan Show. Suffolk breeder Patrick Donnelly, from Ballymena, took the runner’s up prize with his home bred ewe.
Special mention also goes to Brian Williamson and Adrian Liggett, from Omagh in Co Tyrone. They won the sheep inter-breed championship at Antrim Show with a Texel ewe. It was their first champion of champions’ title.