Heavy rainfall drove lambs, miniature horses and Clydesdales under cover at the launch of the 2010 Balmoral Show.
And the organisers of Ireland’s biggest agricultural show have their fingers crossed that they won’t see a repetition of events 17 years ago, when snow fell on the third day of the show — in May.
This year’s show, scheduled for May 12-14 in Belfast, has attracted record numbers of trade exhibitors, said Royal Ulster Agricultural Society chief executive Colin McDonald.
“Not long ago, agriculture in Northern Ireland was being viewed as a sunset industry,” Mr McDonald said at the Balmoral Showgrounds.
“Now there is a new dawn. Agriculture is an anchor for the economy in these turbulent times.”
Fresh investment will see the show open up previously underused space to offer a new pig and goat ring, a marquee for more beef cattle and a new sand practice/warm-up area at the arena.
This year’s programme features extreme sports demonstrations, dancing dogs and Bob the Builder, and nearly 600 livestock classes will include new events such as the Ridden Clydesdale and miniature horse classes.
Mr McDonald said: “In traditional Balmoral style, the 2010 show has a dynamic programme of events offering its usual extravaganza of activity, competition and showmanship. With a full house in terms of exhibitors and displays, we have plenty to offer people from town and country.”
Equestrian attractions will include international showjumping, inter-hunt chase, pony club games and many horse classes from Working Hunter Ponies to Clydesdales and Cobs to Yearlings.
Old favourites such as the Dog Agility Competition and the Sheepdog and Duck Display will be complemented by new attractions including Team Extreme and the Top Lodge Dancing Dogs.
Back by popular demand is Motocross display team The Bolddog Lings. For the first time in Northern Ireland, the team will attempt to make a 75ft jump with a motorbike at the show.
More than 50 food producers will form the biggest Food Village the Balmoral Show has seen to date, offering visitors a chance to try and buy quality local produce. Tasting sessions and cookery demonstrations will be put on by celebrated Taste of Ulster chefs.