Farm minister joins the rush as crowds throng Gosford Forest Park

John Henning with his prizewinning Bull at the show in Armagh on Saturday. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/KEVIN MCAULEY PHOTOGRAPHY MULTIMEDIA
John Henning with his prizewinning Bull at the show in Armagh on Saturday. PICTURE STEVEN MCAULEY/KEVIN MCAULEY PHOTOGRAPHY MULTIMEDIA

Farm Minister Michelle O’Neill mingled with exhibitors and spectators at Armagh County Agricultural Show, held at Gosford Forest Park.

Upwards of 20,000 people attended the one-day show billed as the largest agricultural event in the orchard county.

Showgoers faced long queues as the volume of traffic mounted in and around the Markethill area from mid-morning.

“We pulled out all the stops to provide additional car parking facilities this year, “said the society’s executive secretary Billy Parr. “The weather has been favourable, the crowds are overwhelming and the designated car parks are overflowing.”

The Gosford site has been home to Armagh Show for 12 years and remains popular with livestock and trade exhibitors. More than 160 trade stands were in attendance, with the prize for the best exhibit going to Daisy Cottage Farm, followed by Horner’s Farm and Long Meadow Cider.

There was an action-packed programme for visitors of all ages, which included vintage vehicles, Shetland pony rides, dog agility display, live music, a fun fair, and inspiring cookery demonstrations by chef Jenny Turley. A new addition to this year’s show was an Artisan Food Market featuring a host of local food and drink producers.

The poultry section was re-introduced last year and continues to grow, while equine, goat and pig entries were on a par with previous years. Armagh Show was the chosen venue for a number of national breed finals which led to a significant increase in the number of cattle and sheep entries catalogued.

Toast of the cattle section was Drumcorn Egghead, a five-year-old Aberdeen Angus bull bred and exhibited by John and Ann Henning from Moira. He was described by interbreed judge Peter O’Connell as a tremendous animal and a credit to the breed. Sired by the 10-cow herd’s former stock bull and Royal Highland Show reserve champion Ballamanaugh Estefan, he was bred from one of the herd’s foundation cows.

Runner-up in the inter-breed beef line-up was Coolnaslee Harmony, a 23-month-old heifer from Gilbert Crawford’s 60-cow Charolais herd at Maghera. Sired by the 9,000gns Goldies Carnival, she was reserve champion at Balmoral and Ballymena shows.

The father and son team of George and Jason Booth, Stewartstown, led the interbreed dairy line-up with the Holstein champion Clandeboye Shottle Willow EX92. This third calver is producing 45 litres of milk per day, and is one of 170 cows in the Beechview herd.

Dairy judge David Boyd from Monaghan awarded the reserve overall championship to the Jersey leader Potterswalls On Time Starlight. She was bred and exhibited by the Fleming Family who run a 120-cow Jersey herd at Seaforde.

Top honours in the sheep section went to a Suffolk shearling ewe exhibited by Gary Beacom from Fivemiletown. Standing in reserve position was a six-year-old Charollais ewe from Diane Christie’s Lornbrook flock at Comber. Second reserve champion was a Hampshire Down shearling ewe from J and A Fletcher, Comber. The award for the best ram in show went to a Suffolk ram lamb exhibited by Dennis Taylor from Coleraine.