THERE was a huge sigh of relief from the organisers of the Balmoral Show, in Northern Ireland, as the gates closed at the end of the four-day event last Saturday.

Having been cancelled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and then postponed from May, 2021, to September, the RUAS was determined to put on a show no matter what.

There was no doubt all those who attended were happy to be out and about meeting and chatting to people once again in a somewhat more normal environment.

However, the talk from the walkways suggests Balmoral Show may have damaged its brand pushing ahead with the event this year, rather than wait another seven months to its normal May dates in 2022.

Although the RUAS made the event as Covid-19 safe as they could, visitor numbers were visibly down from the normal 100,000 to what some trade exhibitors are suggesting was less than half that.

Trade stands reported very light footfalls on the Wednesday and Friday, with numbers better on Thursday and Saturday. Some said they were considering asking the RUAS for a partial refund given the high rates they had paid for their stand space.

Visitors also had to pay the normal £20 per head for adults or £16 for pensioners.

One loyal trade exhibitor said: “We were a bit apprehensive about coming at all especially with the timing and the price of the stand. Our pre-show fears proved real when we saw the lack of people on some of the days.

"Yes, it was good to get out and meet our customers but perhaps the RUAS could have offered a discounted pricing structure for stands. We hope to return in May next year, but we will not pay the same rate and will be asking for a different stand location.”

Other exhibitors went as far to say the admission rate plus the strict Covid-19 entry requirements kept visitors away. “Entry prices should have been halved given the bad timing of the show,” said a machinery dealer from Co Antrim. “It would have enticed more people to attend. Plus our stand was priced too high for all the genuine people we saw.”

The September dates also prevented the usual entry of 1000 sheep coming to the show as it simply was the wrong time of the year for farmers to bring them off the fields for a show, given that many of the breed sales are also on at this time.

Also, there was some drama in the cattle shed on Friday night after some of the animals developed mild respiratory conditions including raised temperatures and a few cases of pneumonia due to the extremely mild autumn weather conditions.

As a result, a number of exhibitors decided to take their cattle home early. The RUAS said the show’s senior vet checked the animals and confirmed there was no evidence of anything serious and no cause for concern.

One thing for sure is, that in seven months’ time, the show will be held all over again.

Who won what ...

AFTER almost 2½ years since it was previously held, Northern Ireland’s biggest agri event, the Balmoral Show finally went ahead last week across a four day run.

Around 400 cattle came before the squad of judges, mainly during the Wednesday and Friday, with a few exhibitors showing for the first time. Due to the autumn dates, there were no sheep present to be judged but there were a few static displays of sheep and shearing to look at.

A number of cattle went home early during Friday night as the extremely mild autumn weather caused some animals to develop respiratory conditions including raised temperature and a few cases of pneumonia in the cattle shed.


It certainly was a day for the Aberdeen-Angus breed at Balmoral Show, on Friday, when a young cow belonging to Dromore breeder, Alwyn Armour, scooped the beef inter-breed championship from about 300 beef animals forward.

Shown with her 10-month old calf at foot, the three-year-old Woodvale Miss Annie certainly caught the attention of inter-breed judge, John Elliot, from Kelso, who had a tough choice to make between his champion and reserve.

Sired by Oak Moor Mr Paul and out of Woodvale Miss Annie, the judge described this cow as a top quality animal. He said: “It certainly has been a very close and tough decision choosing my champion, but what an udder the Angus has. She has great balance, is correct and really is a top female.”

Owner, Mr Armour, said: “We are over the moon. It’s a fantastic achievement for us to win the Angus championship and the overall beef inter-breed championship. We started the Angus herd in 1995 and first started showing three years later.

“While we have exhibited two Angus reserve junior champions over the years, this is our first overall breed title and first inter-breed will with an Angus, though we did have a Hereford championship winner here before,” he added.

The judge awarded the reserve inter-breed ticket to the Limousin champion, Jalex Mya, sired by Bassingfield Hobama, and bred by James Alexander, from Jalex Livestock, Randalstown. At almost six years old and also shown with calf at foot, Mya is no stranger to the show ring, but this was the first time she had been at the top of the line.

James said: “We were delighted when Mya won the Limousin championship and even more happy taking the overall reserve interbreed. This is the third time we have shown Mya at Balmoral but it’s her first time as breed champion and interbreed reserve champion.”

In the inter-breed, third place went to the Hereford champion, Solpoll 1 Starlet, a six-year-old cow owned by J and W McMordie, from Ballygowan. This one was sired by the Scottish bred bull, Panmure 1 Henry, bred by the Cant family, from Arbroath.

From the other beef breed championships, the top Simmental was owned by Megan and James McKane, from Ballymena. Their Hiltonstown Indiana 17 is a four-year-old bull sired by Dermotstown Delboy and out of Hiltonstown Erica.

The McKanes bought the bull from its breeder, Richard Rodgers, three years ago to use as a stock bull and this was his first time at Balmoral Show.

Charolais champion was Gretnahouse Pouncer, a three-year-bull owned by breeder, Harry Heron, from Newtownards, who was also a first time exhibitor at the show. Sired by Westcarse Jimmy and out of Gretnahouse Japan, this stock bull was bred by the late Alastair Houston. Harry has 49 cows in the herd and admitted to being a hobby farmer, with being a building contractor as his main business.

In the British Blonde breed, champion was the young heifer, Hillhead Rose, from the Rodgers family, at Ballynahinch. Sired by Allacott Herbie and out of Hillhead Lady, this heifer is home-bred and was shown on the day by Lucy Rodgers.

There was a super display of Beef Shorthorn cattle at the show before judge, Caroline Ivinson, from Penrith. Her champion was Cherryvalley Pearl, a two-year-old home-bred heifer from Cherryvalley Estate, near Crumlin. She was sired by Creagh Malibu and out of Fearn Monic.

Caroline complemented the line-up of Beef Shorthorn animals in the classes and said her champion was a 'sweet two-year-old heifer that oozed perfection and will have a great udder next year.'


There were huge cheers around the dairy rings when judge, Alan Timbrell, from Gloucestershire, tapped out the Jersey champion as his inter-breed champion.

The five-year-old Potterswalls Excitation Glamour, which was on her first visit to Balmoral Show, is owned by the Fleming family, from Seaforde.

Ashley Fleming said: “She is 10 months calved and is on her third lactation producing milk at 5.6% BF and 4.2% P and is projected to yield 9000 litres. We bred her ourselves going back five generations. Antrim Show, in 2019, was her first ever show where she was intermediate heifer champion but she had not been shown since until Balmoral."

Overall reserve dairy inter-breed champion was Priestland Shot J Rose EX96, the Holstein champion from the McLean family's herd at Bushmills. At eight years old, she is one of Northern Ireland’s highest classified cows.

Iain McLean said: “She calved on January 4 and is due again on December 1. This cow is still yielding 52 litres of milk per day at 4.61% BF and 3.38% P. She has given more than 100 tonnes of milk in her lifetime and is one of the highest scoring cows in Northern Ireland currently rated at Ex96.”

The Ayrshire champion was Denamona Clever Lassie, a second calver exhibited by Alan Irwin, from Fintona. This home-bred cow is currently yielding 50 litres per day and was sired by Sandyford Clever Dick. She calved in February and this was her first visit to Balmoral Show.

Alan also exhibited the Dairy Shorthorn champion, Denamona Conrad May. This heifer in milk was sired by Lady Grove Conrad, calved in July and is giving 35 litres per day.


It was the Hanna family, from Macfin, Ballymoney, which took both the Clydesdale championship and reserve titles.

They won with the two-year-old filly, Macfin Dancing Queen, a daughter of Muirton Sabre out of Macfin Diamond Queen, which was ahead of the yearling filly, Macfin Delta Dawn.

Dancing Queen was the reserve overall champion as a foal at the Co Londonderry Foal Show in 2019.