Opinion: Excitement and trepidation as we gear up for show season
Oil-blackened horse hooves, talced up udders, proud photos of ruddy-faced white-coated handlers and their red rosette-bearing stock. It can only mean one thing - the agricultural show season is under way.
For many, these shows punctuate their year, participation is a drug.
Over the coming months, this special breed of person will spend countless hours training, washing and primping their stock.
Then, usually on weekends, they will ferry them up and down the country's highways and byways to often obscurely located showgrounds, tidy 'em up again, then hang around waiting to strut their stuff.
For the few, there is glory and delight… and some financial reward; for the many, disappointment. But there is always another day.
Agricultural shows have a long history in Ireland, with Iverk in Kilkenny claiming to be the oldest, having being first run in 1826.
The original aim was to dissipate information and improve farming standards by recognising and rewarding the best proponents across a wide range of farming enterprises and farmhouse endeavours.
At that time, the show was the highlight of the year in a community, both in terms of participation and as a social event.