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Balmoral: Exhibitors saddened but believe it's the right decision to cancel


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Michael Hunter from Crumlin

Michael Hunter from Crumlin

James Alexander, wife Ruth and daughter Alicia at last year’s show

James Alexander, wife Ruth and daughter Alicia at last year’s show

Michael Hunter from Crumlin

Around 120,000 people visit the Balmoral Show at the Maze each year but this year's cancellation is just one of a few times the famous event has not run in its history.

Other times it was called off include during World War One and in 2001, when the foot and mouth outbreak took a firm grip of Northern Ireland farming.

In 2017 all the poultry classes were cancelled due to the bird flu outbreak.

There are more than 1,000 animals entered each year for the Balmoral Show, but livestock exhibitors had been waiting on the organisers to cancel this year's event.

Michael Hunter from Crumlin is about to turn 40 and has been attending the show for most of his life with his father John, exhibiting their famous Ardmore Ayrshire cattle. While Michael agrees it is sad to see the show being cancelled, he welcomes the decision and the fact he can spend more time working at home.

"The organisers simply had to cancel Balmoral Show. It was inevitable and is the right decision," said Michael.

"Most of the other Northern Ireland shows have also cancelled this year.

"My father is now in his 70s and has been taking cattle to Balmoral Show for as long as I can remember and long before I was born.

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James Alexander, wife Ruth and daughter Alicia at last year’s show

James Alexander, wife Ruth and daughter Alicia at last year’s show

James Alexander, wife Ruth and daughter Alicia at last year’s show

"Yes, the show is good publicity for our cattle and our breeding, but that also comes at a significant cost to us in preparing for the event with little monetary return.

"Of course the show gave me a welcome four-day break from the regular hectic farm schedule and I will miss the social aspect of that. Being at Balmoral Show gives people that haven't seen each other since the previous show [a chance] to catch up and have a chat.

"We will just have to wait and see if the RUAS hold the Winter Fair for the dairy cattle in December."

Randalstown sheep and cattle breeder James Alexander also expected the show to be cancelled and will miss the social life aspect of meeting friends.

James said: "I was expecting the news but it's very disappointing at the same time. Balmoral Show was our last hope of getting our cattle and sheep out for a run.

"I have been showing at Balmoral for the past 13 years usually with up to eight cattle. Last year was the first time I took sheep to the show and exhibited pedigree Suffolk sheep as well as pedigree Limousin cattle. I also had a stand exhibiting four-wheel-drive vehicles that we sell.

"We will just have to wait until May 2021 when Balmoral Show is scheduled again and hope the world has returned to normal then," he said.

Belfast Telegraph