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Balmoral Show to run for an extra day next year, confirms chief

By Chris McCullough

Northern Ireland's biggest agricultural event has confirmed it will add another day to its traditional three-day format for next year.

The four-day Balmoral Show will run from Wednesday, May 10 to Saturday, May 13 in 2017 under recommendation from the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society's show dates committee.

The announcement was made following a RUAS council meeting yesterday and is a reflection of the popularity of the huge event which attracts 90,000 visitors annually.

It is hoped the extra day will help alleviate traffic congestion within the show car parks after visitors to this year's show found themselves waiting hours to get in and out of the event on the Wednesday and Thursday.

Some action is required to sort out the traffic flow around the show following many complaints this year from drivers.

RUAS chief executive Colin McDonald said: "At its meeting on Friday, the council of the RUAS accepted the recommendation of its show dates committee that the 2017 Balmoral Show should run from Wednesday, May 10 to Saturday, May 13, 2017.

"The council went on to task the committees and the staff to ensure that the aim of a successful four-day show is achieved while continuing the society's drive to financial sustainability and most importantly, while meeting the needs of the livestock exhibitors and trade exhibitors."

Referring to the car parking problems, Mr McDonald added: "The society will be asking government to press ahead with its plans to give the PSNI powers to introduce temporary one-way systems and road closures during Balmoral Show."

Mr McDonald also addressed the concern of some visitors who complained this year about being stuck in a crowd while cattle were being led from the livestock halls to the main arena.

Some visitors said they had to wait half an hour for the cattle to pass. Mr McDonald said: "The parade of prize-winning animals is a highlight of Balmoral Show and a spectacle not to be missed. However disruptions are indeed caused as the animals are moved to form up in the arena. There is a count down of announcements to advise patrons when the cattle crossing will be closed.

"Patrons can still pass to the other side of the crossing by walking the long way round the arena. True, that's an inconvenience, but worth it given the enjoyment to be had by those watching a spectacle not seen elsewhere."

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