New stock on the block as Tullamore celebrates 25 years
Pigs will be on parade at the Tullamore Show for the first time ever this weekend.
After a series of qualifying rounds throughout the country, 26 pigs, from nine different breeds, will battle it out for the All-Ireland pig champion crown.
Dermot Allen, shows director at the Irish Pig Society, founded just three years ago, says participating in Tullamore is an ideal opportunity to educate audiences about traditional pig farming.
"After every show tonnes of people always come up to us saying their father or grandfather used to farm pigs and that they're interested in reigniting their roots. We want to raise awareness of the simplicity of farming pigs. They can be grown and reared anywhere in the country, they don't require much antibiotics and they feed on barley, meal and soya," he said.
"It's very satisfying for a farmer to raise pigs and have the freezer full of bacon, pork, sausages and rashers for the whole year. They also bring great joy to families when they run out to greet you in the morning," he said.
The final consists of seven individual classes, open to all breeds, with the top pig hogging the Brian Merry perpetual trophy.
Despite being the new livestock on the block, there will be plenty of other events to attract crowds at the Tullamore Show and AIB National Livestock Show, now celebrating its 25 year.
The hugely successful event with a prize-fund of €168,000, will feature 1,000-plus competitions in everything from livestock to baking to inventions.
Entry figures for the main livestock event, including dairy, commercial capital and pedigree breeds, have surpassed previous years.
Organisers say overall there was strong entries in almost every breed including the Limousin, Charolais and Angus. Some 140 pedigree Hereford cattle from Ireland's top breeders will feature in the national Hereford show on the day. They will take part in a total of 24 classes, including various championships. Breeders will compete for their share of a prize fund worth almost ¤8,000. Danish breeder Michael Jensen will judge proceedings.
Meanwhile, the versatile Simmental breeds have broken all the records with 212 entries for their national finals on the 250-acre Butterfield Estate. This is the breed's 23rd national show and will feature 13 national Simmental classes plus another four calf classes, with a total prize fund of more than€7,000.
Freda Kinarney, show administrator, revealed that longwooled sheep, the Bluefaced Leicester, will also make their Tullamore Show debut.
Farm Safety Live, run in conjunction with Farm Relief Services, FBD and the Health and Safety Authority will bring three farm hazard areas to the show. The demonstrations aim to deliver practical knowledge to farm families so they can make their farms safer places to work.
When asked about pressures involved in holding both the Tullamore Show and National Ploughing Championships in the Faithful County this year, Ms Kinarney said "the events compliment each other".
"We've huge support for each other and we liaise with both organisations and we even overlap with personnel involved," she said.
There will be a host of other attractions this Sunday, including a country music jamboree, starring musical maestro Michael English, a cooking tutorial with celebrity chef Neven Maguire, fashion shows, vintage and machinery display and a rare animal breeds' corner. A total of 700 trade stands, art and photography exhibitions, crafts, needlework and flower shows will give spectators hours of endless entertainment.
An estimated 20,000 free car parking spaces will be available, with more than 60,000 expected to attend. "It's a family event, we've something for everyone. Many international visitors are also making trips to see our high standard," said Ms Kinarney.
Inventors rise to the challenge in record numbers
Inventor fever will grip the Tullamore Show this weekend as pioneering farm safety and home improvement creations are set to dazzle audiences.
Last year saw the largest number of entries in the National Inventions Competition, sponsored by the Farming Independent, since the competition began in the mid 90s.
Around 30 entries are expected this weekend.
Organisers say interest in student innovations has “sky-rocketed”. As such, coordinators have decided that all judging of inventions will take place on Saturday.
Categories include: inventions in home, leisure and building, labour-saving devices, inventions in agriculture, horticulture and forestry and student innovations. A total prize fund of €2,500 is being provided by three sponsors; the Farming Independent, WR Shaw, Rosenallis, Co Laois, and GlennGorey Pumps Ltd, Newbridge, Co Kildare.
Rosettes and the coveted first place cup are also up for grabs. The best student exhibit in each of the three categories will win €100.
Lesley Cox, head of the inventions section, says the level of effort, dedication and creativity is getting higher and higher every year.
“Some exhibitors have been working on their inventions for months, they really want to make something that will make life easier for all farmers. As time goes on, we find that people are getting interested in entering in more than one class, they are entering more than one design,” she said.
“Whether it’s a PTO shaft, things for cutting wood or new contraptions for easily transporting turf from the shed to the turf box, it’s all about making farm life better,” she said.
Last year’s winning inventions included fashionable men’s wooden bow ties, a mobile crush unit, rainwater separator and a slurry gas monitor.
The winner in the ‘inventions in agriculture’ section was Pat Keary for his ‘anti-kick bar’ for castrating bulls. Mr Keary, from Loughrea, wowed judges with his design that removes the threat of a bull kicking the farmer while castration is taking place. As for the judging process, Ms Cox says the judges will systematically work each invention, talk to individual inventors and make their decision based on a series of criteria including presentation, practicality and fit for purpose.
“An officer from the National Patents Office in Kilkenny will come along on the day to advise exhibitors on how to get a patent,” she said.
“So a simple labour-saving device of today might become a groundbreaking invention of tomorrow.”
Judging starts at 10.30am on Saturday and the results will be announced at 3.30pm on Sunday. Inventors are free to sell and display there inventions during the event.