Belfast Telegraph

In Pictures: Ballymena Show is a sizzler

By Julie Hazelton

Cold drinks and ice-cream were in big demand as thousands basked in the sunshine at Co Antrim Agricultural Association’s 112th Ballymena Show at the weekend.

As temperatures soared towards the mid-20s, the Ballymena Showgrounds welcomed exhibitors, judges and spectators from Northern Ireland and the Republic, as well as Scotland and England.

“It’s been a fantastic show and certainly the best Ballymena Show for many years,” said Association chairman Randal Hayes.

“Over the past few years our show has experienced cold and wet weather conditions, but this year’s event has certainly been blessed with above average temperatures and blazing sunshine.

“The glorious weather and the hard work and dedication of our organising committee has helped to put the 2012 Ballymena Show firmly on top of the leaderboard as one of the Province’s leading agricultural showcases.”

Mr Hayes added: “Entries were up in the cattle section with classes for 15 native, continental and rare breeds, while in the sheep section we had scheduled classes for 18 different breeds. In addition we had a large entry of horses and ponies, a sheep shearing competition, and a well-supported home industries section featuring home baking, needlework, floral art and other crafts.

“The trade area was bustling with a wide and varied display of machinery, food and crafts, and for the younger visitors we had a bouncy castle, a kiddies’ pet farm, amusements and zorbing (rolling downhill inside an orb).”

The award for the best trade stand went to Hillstown Farm Shop based at Ahoghill; while Limavady-based machinery dealer David A Forgie collected the runner-up prize. In the afternoon the crowds were entertained by members of the local Young Farmers’ Club of Ulster who had organised a charity It’s a Knockout competition, as well as tractor handling and farmyard olympics.

Mingling with showgoers were VIP guests including Mayor Hubert Nicholl; deputy Mayor Robin Cherry; Justice Minister David Ford; Jim Nicholson MEP; Ulster Farmers’ Union president Harry Sinclair and Colin McDonald, chief executive of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society.

Local flock owner Patrick Donnelly, from Rathkenny, was the toast of the sheep section, winning the interbreed championship with his one-year-old Suffolk ewe. Runner-up was a two-year-old Perth Blackface ewe exhibited by Rodger Crawford from Parkmore, Ballymena.

The parade of prize-winning cattle featured a variety of animals from many of the country’s leading pedigree herds. The British Blues claimed the award for the best breed on parade, with second place going to the Holsteins.

Maghera businessman Gilbert Crawford claimed the interbreed beef honours as well as the award for the supreme champion of champions. His winning entry was the much-admired home-bred Charolais heifer, Coolnaslee Gracious, a 15-month-old daughter of the herd’s stock bull Sportsmans Columbo.

Taking the reserve interbreed beef honours was the commercial champion, a cross-bred Charolais bullock named Collateral Damage, exhibited by James Alexander from Randalstown.

Second reserve honours went to the Limousin leader, Clontia Valance, an eight-year-old cow by Grahams Samson, owned by Herbie Crawford, and sons Raymond and Stephen, who had travelled from Maguiresbridge in Fermanagh.

Leading the dairy interbreed line-up, and taking the reserve overall ribbons in the cattle section, was the Holstein champion, Hilltara Monsoon Rosabella, a second calver producing 50 litres of milk per day, owned by the father and son team of Sam and John McCormick, who run a herd of 280 cows near Bangor, Co Down.

Runner-up in the dairy section was the Ayrshire champion, Ravenhill Tulip 95, a cow from John Suffern’s herd near Crumlin, Co Antrim.

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