Belfast Telegraph

Balmoral Show: Four-day event a winner say organisers with visitor numbers expected to exceed 100,000

By Rachel Martin

The first Balmoral Show to run into the weekend has been "a dream success" insist organisers, with a decision already taken to hold a second four-day event next year.

Visitor numbers are yet to be confirmed, but Royal Ulster Agricultural Society boss Colin McDonald was confident that the 100,000 mark had been smashed for the first time in the show's 149-year history.

Mr McDonald told journalists that the show was now attracting more than double the number of visitors which the old site at the King's Hall in Belfast had brought in.

He said: "The Saturday attendance is better than we could have expected and it's clear we have got a new audience as well.

"The new audience is one that couldn't have come previously because the show wasn't open on Saturday.

"But it is now open and people have come."

Mr McDonald said that the show's first Saturday had "the same Balmoral buzz" that we have had on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

"It's been a dream success," he added. "A lot of thanks are due to the exhibitors, because they have had to do a third extra work with only thanks from us.

"It's cost them money, it's cost them time and yet they've done it."

And he said: "We've already another four-day show booked for next year."

The show moved from the King's Hall in Belfast to the former site of the Maze prison in 2013.

Among the guests who attended the show this year were the Prime Minister, Theresa May, and the DUP leader, Arlene Foster.

Mrs Foster, who grew up on a small farm in Co Fermanagh, said that for her the Balmoral Show was a combination of both work and leisure.

She said: "I've been cooking scallops, eating sausages and doing all sorts of things, so it's been wonderful.

"I always look forward to Balmoral.

"I had my son up with me on Wednesday, so we did the sheep and the cattle.

"It was lovely to see the Dexters and going around the stands and hearing how people are getting on with their businesses, which I am still interested in from my time as Enterprise Minister.

"The food end [of the show] has really come into its own - it's wonderful because people have an appreciation for what we're making here in Northern Ireland and selling across the world."

Plans are already under way for future shows.

"I'm not thinking about the Balmoral Show next year - I'm already planning Balmoral Show 2019," Mr McDonald added.

Belfast Telegraph

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