Winter fair set to pull in full house
Out with the bruisers and in with the bulls - the King's Hall in Belfast enjoyed a full house last Saturday for the boxing and it's expecting to repeat the feat with today's Winter Fair.
The Winter Fair is the biggest event of the year for Ulster's dairying sector, with Shorthorns, Jersey, Ayrshire and Holstein cattle from all over Ireland battling it out in the show ring today to be crowned Supreme Champion.
Royal Ulster Agricultural Society chief executive Colin McDonald has had a busy few days as the boxers made way for the bovines.
"The hall has been turned from a boxing stadium into the Winter Fair and everyone who has any interest in the dairy sector at all will be here today," he said.
"The job of the Winter Fair is for all the people who are involved in agriculture to find out what's new and what they can do to improve their business.
"The agri-food sector is 20% of the private sector economy and dairy is the biggest part of that. Because of the recent rise in milk prices, they are at a level where people in that sector will be confident they can invest in the future."
The hall itself will host more than 140 trade stands offering innovations in genetics, feed and feed additives, technology and herd management, and last week's dip in milk prices is unlikely to dampen the enthusiasm for investing in the business, he said.
"Nobody thought the milk prices would stay at the levels they were recently at - that is only a re-correction in the markets," Mr McDonald said.
The milk price is expected to re-correct once again to a level that will allow Ulster's dairying industry to capitalise on the underlying upward trend in global milk prices, including strong demand from China, he said.
"It's been a lean period over the last five years and it's now coming to a level where its possible to invest in the future. That underlying demand is still there - it's not going to go away," he said.
Entries for the fair closed on Wednesday, November 28, and after the Republic's success last year in bringing home the Supreme Champion title, this winter has seen an increase in southern entries.
The Royal Ulster Winter Fair runs from 9am to 5pm. Admission for adults is £6, concessions are £3 and RUAS members are free of charge. For further information please contact the RUAS on 02890 665225.