What started life as an agricultural show over a century ago has evolved into one of the most diverse and interesting shopping experiences Northern Ireland can offer.
This year's Balmoral Show in partnership with Ulster Bank will have over 450 trade stands in attendance, offering everything from handbags and holidays to tractors and tea lights.
According to RUAS Operations Director, Rhonda Geary, the Show is recognised as a key promotional and selling platform within the agricultural and wider business community.
“Balmoral Show is well renowned for being one of Ireland's largest agricultural shows, but it has also become an amazingly diverse shopping venue, with an eclectic mix of stands from local to international brands, handmade to manufactured, and ranging in price from a few pence to hundreds of thousands of pounds.”
“Thousands of visitors attend the Show over three days. They come to soak up the atmosphere, enjoy the entertainment and to shop! As the Balmoral Show has evolved so too has the nature of trade exhibitors as local and national businesses recognise it as a key promotional opportunity. The product range has widened to encompass household, garden and lifestyle items. However the Show still has a strong agricultural content and this theme remains central to the Show's success.”
Food producers large and small will come together to form the biggest Food Village the Balmoral Show has seen to date. The 2011 Show will see over 50 local producers, large supermarkets, and independent retailers present their fare side by side, offering visitors a chance to try and buy quality local produce.
For those with an interest in crafts, there is an expanded offering. Products based on many of the traditional skills such as candle making, embroidery, woodturning and iron mongery will be on sale within the craft village.
The King's Hall is the place to track down lifestyle and health products, furniture, footwear, toys and gift items among other merchandise.
Agricultural suppliers and energy companies are concentrated within the Nugent Hall, and gardening enthusiasts should head to the Garden Village, adjacent to the Arena for bedding plants, furniture and ornamental features. The largest and most eye catching display is provided by the plant and heavy machinery exhibitors. Located within section B beside the Cattle Lawn and E and F, beside Gate E, this year's exhibits will include John McElderry, Kubota and Alexander Mills. Following a two year absence, Caterpillar equipment will once again be represented at the Show with the arrival of new exhibitor, Finning.
“It is difficult to put a figure on the amount of business conducted at the Balmoral Show,' Rhonda Geary continued, “But given that it will be hundreds of thousands of pounds over the course of the three days, it undoubtedly plays a significant role in the local economy.”