A record 80,000 visitors to this year’s Balmoral Show has been hailed as part of an overall showcase which signalled renewed commercial confidence in the sector.
Organisers, the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS), noted that visitor numbers had increased considerably from 77,000 last year, the first time the event had moved out of Belfast to the old Maze prison site.
Chief executive Colin McDonald said: “The increase in visitors is good because there was a general concern that the interest in the first year at the Maze might have been a novelty. But now we can say we have the new Balmoral Show at the Maze site well and truly established.
“We are so pleased that all our plans over the last five years have been given such a ringing endorsement by visitors.”
He said the show was also 10 per cent bigger this year with significantly more trade stands.
“There have been reports of a definite uptake in men willing to make investment decisions for the first time in years.”
The price for farm produce has begun to look more stable, encouraging farmers to invest.
“Agri-food makes up about 22 per cent of Northern Ireland’s private sector – so the show is a shop window into a very significant part of our economy. And the growing confidence is good news for jobs of all types on this sector,” he said.
The final day of the show was sunny with a nice cool breeze.
“It was just perfect,” he said.
There were 5,000 animals entered into the show.
“The finale saw 660 prizewinning animals parade into the arena. The huge scale and the crowds involved meant it was an absolute spectacle,” he said.