From celeb chefs to woolly antics. . . beefed-up show is back with bang
Prize cows, vintage tractors, frothy pints and yellow sponge cakes with lashings of fresh cream will entice an estimated 55,000 people to Co Offaly today.
Exhibitors at the 20th annual Tullamore Show are preparing to offer every class of gadget.
It's not just a show for small crafts people and the farmer's wife, however, and this year it means big business.
For the first time, major meat companies, including Dunbia, Donegal Meats, Kepak, Slaney Foods and Dawn Meats, will be in the Meat Village for the one-day agricultural show at the Butterfield Estate.
Meat produce is still one of the country's key exports and is worth an estimated €8bn a year.
This year, the programme at the show includes over 1,000 exhibitor competitions vying for a prize fund of €165,000. The top prizes are the gold medal awards for livestock.
Organisers are keen to pack the show grounds and to ensure the €15 admission price for adults is money well spent. Children under 14 go free, while it is €10 for students and pensioners.
Andrew Corrigan, a former All-Ireland champion, and George Graham will demonstrate machine sheep shearing using the Bowen Method. This was invented by Godfrey Bowen and is used all over the world to strip sheep of their fleece.
Graham holds the Irish record for shearing 481 sheep in nine hours.
The 13-time All-Ireland shearing champion, Pat Corrigan Snr, will demonstrate hand shearing using the Jack and Trousers Method.
Children will be fascinated by the courage, intelligence, stamina and obedience of the Collie during the sheepdog trials.
The old ways will be celebrated too, with patchwork quilt competitions, jewellery making and needlework.
No event is complete these days without a celebrity chef, so Neven Maguire has been tasked with keeping the meat village thronged.
Some 500 volunteers from all over the country, and even as far as Scotland, have helped to organise the show, according to chairman George Gill.
Mr Gill said judges from Canada and other parts of Europe will decide on the winners.
There are 20,000 free car parking spaces available all day.
The grounds open at 7.30am for exhibitors and 9am for spectators. Judging starts at 10am. A parade of the livestock show champions will be held at 4.30pm.