Thousands of people travelled from across the province and further afield to attend Castlewellan and District’s 42nd annual agricultural show.
The event took place in the idyllic Castlewellan Forest Park, a 450 hectare estate which boasts an array of historic features including a Scottish Baronial-style castle, Annesley Gardens and National Arboretum, and a Peace Maze.
Despite heavy rain showers in other areas of the country, Castlewellan was blessed with warm sunny spells for most of the day. Rain descended on the Co Down venue late in the afternoon.
Long-serving show secretary, Violet Bell, MBE, reported an increased entry in all sections, with pigs proving to be a popular addition to this year’s schedule.
“It’s a great family day out, and we have something for everyone, including a large selection of trade stands ranging from hand-made crafts to agricultural machinery.
“Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the continued success of our show.”
Other attractions at this year’s event included a large pet show, sheep shearing and fleece competitions, a fun fair, a food hall featuring the best of locally-produced food, as well as the usual livestock, poultry, equestrian and home industry sections.
The mounted pony games proved to be a big spectator event with everyone cheering on their respective counties.
The winners were Co Down, with Co Armagh and Co Fermanagh taking second and third place.
VIP visitors included UFU president, Graham Furey and Northern Ireland Shows Association chairman, Randal Hayes.
Castlewellan Show is one of the largest sheep events in Ireland, attracting over 1,000 entries representing almost 20 native, continental and minority breeds. Judging of the various classes took place throughout the day, and it was after 6pm when the interbreed judges were selecting the overall champion of champions. The winner at this year’s show was a Bluefaced Leicester ewe exhibited by Julie Loughery who had travelled from Limavady in Co Londonderry.
Michael and Alison Graham from Antrim took the reserve championship award with their Rouge de l’Ouest ram. The second reserve award went to a Suffolk ewe exhibited by Norman Robinson, Downpatrick.
Castlewellan Show also hosted the final of the prestigious NISA/Northern Bank sheep championship. The winners of the £100 cash award and crystal trophy were Texel breeders, Messrs Williamson and Liggett. The reserve award, which includes a £75 cash prize, went to Jim Aiken and family from Dromara, who exhibited a Border Leicester ewe. Third place went to Mourne Blackface breeders, Paul and Owen McEvoy, Kilcoo, Newry.
The cattle section was led by the senior British Blonde bull, Doncombe Aga Khan, owned by the McElroy family of Ivaniskey Livestock, Dromara. The McElroy trio, Ivan, Ruth and William, scooped the interbreed beef honours, before taking the overall champion of champions award.
The reserve champion of champions in the cattle section was the interbreed dairy winner, Aldringham Stormatic Ghost, a July 2003 born Holstein cow exhibited by the father and daughter team of Ivan and Louise Robinson, Ballygowan. The Robinson duo had a clean sweep in the dairy section, also taking the reserve and second reserve championship awards with Holstein and Jersey exhibits.
The reserve interbreed beef honours went to a yearling Limousin heifer, exhibited by the Crawford family, Herbie, Raymond and Stephen, who had travelled from Maguiresbridge in Co Fermanagh. David Hazelton , Dungannon, took the second reserve beef award with his home-bred Simmental heifer, Ranfurly Weikel 3rd — winner of seven successive breed championship titles.