Balmoral Show: Sun shines as country folk put on a real show
An estimated 30,000 visitors and exhibitors made their way to the sunny opening day of the Balmoral Show yesterday.
Grumbles about traffic congestion on the way to our biggest agricultural show soon melted away for most as they basked in sunshine.
With 600 trade stalls at the site of the former Maze Prison and scores of livestock competitions - from cows to horses, sheep, pigs and rabbits - as well as the popular food pavilion, there was plenty to see and do at the Ulster Banksponsored event.
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Farmers have been preparing livestock for months, not only in the hope of winning rosettes but also as a showcase to sell.
In the cattle sheds, William Nelson was putting the final touches to his daughter-in-law Andrea's two Simmental cows.
"This is a woman's work," he joked as he back-combed the tails. The cattle were singled out four months ago for more feed to ensure they were in peak physical condition for the show.
"They also need to be handled more to make sure they will be OK when we bring them along here," William's son Keith said.
"Then on the day they are washed and combed. We put shampoo in their hair to make it stand up. It's a bit like a person getting ready for a night out, putting on their best clothes, and like people they can get a little nervous."
The Orange Order was back at the show after a five-year break, and had even commissioned a new tea towel for the occasion which read 'Ewe-nion Jack' complete with red, white and blue sheep.
Over at the DUP stand, Peter Robinson said he had enjoyed sampling prawns, pulled pork and some strawberry blonde flavoured Glastry Farm Ice Cream.
The First Minister revealed he had grown up in Carryduff when it was much more rural than it is now.
"I have done my years of helping to bring in the hay and picking spuds. I used to get five shillings a day - and as many spuds as you could carry home with you," he said.
The Balmoral Show is open today from 9.30am to 8pm, and from 9.30am to 8pm tomorrow. Admission from £2 to £18. Children under five years are free when accompanied by an adult.