Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 17 August 2017

Ten things you can't miss at this year's Balmoral Show

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill pictured on the cattle lawn at Balmoral Show.
Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill pictured on the cattle lawn at Balmoral Show.

Rachel Martin

What's in the store for the thousands of people attending the Balmoral Show?

1 Breakfast with Jean-Christophe Novelli

There's a host of things to do in the food pavilion, with a packed itinerary you'd be very unlucky to get there when there's not something happening. Legendary TV chef Jean-Christophe Novelli will take to the stage for one hour on Saturday morning and will show you how to whip up a gourmet breakfast - make sure not to miss it!

Read More Balmoral's inaugural four-day event 'will give visitors unforgettable experience'

Saturday 10:30am, Food NI Pavilion

2 YFCU Tug of War

Watch the young farmers take centre stage on the cattle lawns on Thursday night for this one. Find out where your nearest club is, and give them a cheer as they take on the rivals.

You'll be impressed by the co-ordination of the teams but even more so by the roaring supporters. The competition is usually tight, so you'll find yourself caught up in the atmosphere in no time.


If this sounds like fun, you'll also enjoy the young farmers' tractor handling. Watch as the competitors manoeuvre around the course with a ball resting on the tractor trying not to knock over any cones. As the competition is a race it's a challenge trying not to drop the ball – literally.

Tug of War: Thursday, 5:30pm, Cattle Ring

Machinery Handling: Thursday 2pm, Cattle Ring

3 Learn the art

Embrace your inner foodie and learn how to make anything from chorizo to gin and chocolate as our local artisan producers talk you through how they make their produce.

There's an eclectic mix of producers so this one's worth revisiting throughout the week and while you're in the marquee feel free to look around and try some of the region's other produce.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 1:30-3pm, Food NI Pavilion

4 The Champion of Champions and winners' parade

Ever seen a champion rabbit judged against a champion cow? Us neither. Come along and watch as the champions of each section of the show are pitted against each other to find the first ever Balmoral Champion of Champions. BBC's Karen Patterson will have the unenviable task of judging.

And moments before you can watch as the very best of Balmoral's hundreds of animals circle the showgrounds in a parade leading back to the main arena for the final of all finals – a great way to see all of the animals including the native and rare breeds if you've already done too much walking.

Saturday 3-4pm Main Arena

5 Ladies' hunter side saddle

You can really lose track of time watching the graceful riders in their dressage. Watch as they perch elegantly to the side of their horses while carrying out complex movements. The competitors are all dedicated enthusiasts trying to bring back this old-fashioned way of riding.

Thursday, 11:45am Horse Arena 1

6 W.I. Marquee

If the promise of home-made scones just like your granny made them and afternoon tea wasn't enough, then check out the artwork and arrangements on show.

The Women's Institute are well known for their creativity and can turn anything from a thimble to a tea cup or a watering can into a floral arrangement. You'll leave feeling like Mary Berry after you've had a go mentally judging the best shortcakes, jams and cakes on display.

7 Jive the night away at the Balmoral Bash

If jiving's your thing or if you just want to watch, put on your best pair of brown shoes or heels and enjoy the music by country king Richie Remo, but you'll have to be quick, it's a ticketed event just outside the showgrounds.

If you ask nicely you might even be able to convince someone to show you how to give it a go or you could call round the Spar Arena where you can pick up a few tips at the jiving demonstrations.

Balmoral Bash: Friday, 9pm onwards, The Tannery, Moira

Jiving demonstrations: Thursday 12:45pm and Saturday 1:15pm, Spar Arena

8 Retail Therapy

Every country woman knows the show is one of the best places to pick up the latest fashions.

It doesn't matter whether your taste is more Dubarry, Joules, Rydale or even handmade country crafts, there's something for everyone. Leave the kids with dad or gran to go around the petting farm and take a minute to treat yourself to some retail therapy.

9 The Lely Astronaut

Imagine a future where the cows can decide what time they get milked - and if you can find the Lely's robotic milker (known as the Lely Astronaut) you'll be able to watch for yourself. If you've never seen a cow milking before prepare to be amazed. The cows use the robot of their own accord throughout the day so you'll not be too long waiting to see it in action.

All day, every day, the Lely stand

10 Sheep shearing

It was a close shave for 10th, but you'll be on the edge of your seat in the shearing pavilion as competitors from around the world battle it out to be named the 2017 champion.

The open marquee is viewer friendly and means you can drift in and out as you please - not that you'll want to leave once the competition starts.

The very fastest shearers in the world can get through a whole sheep in around 30 seconds - but with marks deducted for any nicks or rough treatment of the animals, the shearers also have to be very careful too.

It's a fascinating watch as the competition heats up throughout the week, culminating with the open international finals on Saturday.

Wednesday 1pm, Thursday 3pm, Friday 2pm, Saturday 2pm, Shearing Pavilion

Belfast Telegraph