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Preparations underway at the Balmoral Show as people get ready for 3 days of showjumping and cattle showing

Preparations underway at the Balmoral Show as people get ready for 3 days of showjumping and cattle showing

Preparations underway at the Balmoral Show as people get ready for 3 days of showjumping and cattle showing

Preparations underway at the Balmoral Show as people get ready for 3 days of showjumping and cattle showing

Preparations underway at the Balmoral Show as people get ready for 3 days of showjumping and cattle showing

Preparations underway at the Balmoral Show as people get ready for 3 days of showjumping and cattle showing

Preparations underway at the Balmoral Show as people get ready for 3 days of showjumping and cattle showing

Preparations underway at the Balmoral Show as people get ready for 3 days of showjumping and cattle showing

Preparations underway at the Balmoral Show as people get ready for 3 days of showjumping and cattle showing

Preparations underway at the Balmoral Show as people get ready for 3 days of showjumping and cattle showing

Elaine Hunter, Ballymoney, with her Polled Dorset sheep at Balmoral Show

Elaine Hunter, Ballymoney, with her Polled Dorset sheep at Balmoral Show

Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew and EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel take shelter during a shower of rain with UFU President Graham Furey at Balmoral Show

Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew and EU Agriculture Commissioner Mariann Fischer Boel take shelter during a shower of rain with UFU President Graham Furey at Balmoral Show

Sammy Wilson, proved to be dairy good when he tried his hand at milking Daisy the Dale Farm Cow at the Balmoral Show

Sammy Wilson, proved to be dairy good when he tried his hand at milking Daisy the Dale Farm Cow at the Balmoral Show

Nadia Moore and Rebecca Wallace from Annalong with puppies in the childrens farm at the Balmoral show

Nadia Moore and Rebecca Wallace from Annalong with puppies in the childrens farm at the Balmoral show

Colin and Raymond Todd from Lisburn with his Blonde Junior Champion at the Balmoral show

Colin and Raymond Todd from Lisburn with his Blonde Junior Champion at the Balmoral show

A belgian Blue Bull gets a welcome shower after a hard day at the Balmoral show

A belgian Blue Bull gets a welcome shower after a hard day at the Balmoral show

Uncle Hugo entertains the crowds at the Balmoral show

Uncle Hugo entertains the crowds at the Balmoral show

Moycraig Young Farmers battle through the rain in the YFC Tog O War competition

Moycraig Young Farmers battle through the rain in the YFC Tog O War competition

Connor Colins, Ciara Cook, Martin Devine, Amy Hale and Susan McCord from St Kevins Falls Rd Belfast who won the global food network competition to grow their own food at the Balmoral show

Connor Colins, Ciara Cook, Martin Devine, Amy Hale and Susan McCord from St Kevins Falls Rd Belfast who won the global food network competition to grow their own food at the Balmoral show

Karren Wells from Markethill celebrates with her goat Molly after winning her class at the Balmoral show

Karren Wells from Markethill celebrates with her goat Molly after winning her class at the Balmoral show

Titan the ASDA robot entertains at the Balmoral show

Titan the ASDA robot entertains at the Balmoral show

Titan the ASDA robot entertains the people at the Balmoral Show

Titan the ASDA robot entertains the people at the Balmoral Show

Shirley Anderson, from Ballymena, hands her entry for a prize draw to Anne Hagan on the Ulster Bank stand at Balmoral Show

Shirley Anderson, from Ballymena, hands her entry for a prize draw to Anne Hagan on the Ulster Bank stand at Balmoral Show

Stephen MacAuley and William Edgar, from Downpatrick, give David George, Ulster Bank business development manager, a demonstration of how to get sheep ready for the show ring

Stephen MacAuley and William Edgar, from Downpatrick, give David George, Ulster Bank business development manager, a demonstration of how to get sheep ready for the show ring

Free rain macs proved popular with visitors to Balmoral Show after showers on Thursday afternoon

Free rain macs proved popular with visitors to Balmoral Show after showers on Thursday afternoon

Cormac McKervey, Ulster Bank, discusses the agricultural economy with Farm Minister Michelle Gildernew during a visit to Balmoral Show on Thursday afternoon

Cormac McKervey, Ulster Bank, discusses the agricultural economy with Farm Minister Michelle Gildernew during a visit to Balmoral Show on Thursday afternoon

Elaine Hunter, Ballymoney, with her Polled Dorset sheep

Elaine Hunter, Ballymoney, with her Polled Dorset sheep

Fred Loughridge, Armoy, getting his sheep ready for showing at Balmoral Show

Fred Loughridge, Armoy, getting his sheep ready for showing at Balmoral Show

Kirsty Clarke and Caroline Woolsey, Ballygowan getting ready to show their Ballymartin Herefords at Ballymoral Show

Kirsty Clarke and Caroline Woolsey, Ballygowan getting ready to show their Ballymartin Herefords at Ballymoral Show

Jonathan Farrell and Alan Kennedy enjoying a cup of tea before showing their cattle at Balmoral Show

Jonathan Farrell and Alan Kennedy enjoying a cup of tea before showing their cattle at Balmoral Show

Watching the Horses at the Balmoral Show

Watching the Horses at the Balmoral Show

In the Cattle Market at the Balmoral Show

In the Cattle Market at the Balmoral Show

Clodagh McGovern has her Bull Ratorty Dollar in the perfect stance at the Balmoral Show

Clodagh McGovern has her Bull Ratorty Dollar in the perfect stance at the Balmoral Show

Freestyle Motorcycling at the Balmoral Show

Freestyle Motorcycling at the Balmoral Show

Watching the Horses at the Balmoral Show

Watching the Horses at the Balmoral Show

Taking a break at the Balmral Show

Taking a break at the Balmral Show

Bethany Boyd in with her fathers Ile De France flock at the Balmoral Show

Bethany Boyd in with her fathers Ile De France flock at the Balmoral Show

Lara Ormedilla with her Horse Adamstown at the Balmoral Show

Lara Ormedilla with her Horse Adamstown at the Balmoral Show

Kim Robinson and Nicola Greer Shelter from the rain at the Balmoral Show

Kim Robinson and Nicola Greer Shelter from the rain at the Balmoral Show

Jamie McDowell and David Fitzgerald Caught on Camera at the Balmoral Show

Jamie McDowell and David Fitzgerald Caught on Camera at the Balmoral Show

Tony Sutcliffe on hand to provide medical assistance if needed

Tony Sutcliffe on hand to provide medical assistance if needed

Vicky McClinchie (18) from Belcoo and Adam Fowler

Vicky McClinchie (18) from Belcoo and Adam Fowler

An Owl at the Balmoral show.

An Owl at the Balmoral show.

Orla Coyle (17), Kathy McKinstrey (17), Elaine Crosier (17) and Kirsty Ridelle (16), all from Armagh.

Orla Coyle (17), Kathy McKinstrey (17), Elaine Crosier (17) and Kirsty Ridelle (16), all from Armagh.

Lynn Kelly with Morgan (5) and Madison (4) from Strabane

Lynn Kelly with Morgan (5) and Madison (4) from Strabane

An entertainer on stilts entertains the children

An entertainer on stilts entertains the children

Andrew King at the Balmoral show

Andrew King at the Balmoral show

John Stephenson (58), sheep farmer from County Durham, England and John Blaney (58) from Cushendun.

John Stephenson (58), sheep farmer from County Durham, England and John Blaney (58) from Cushendun.

Yvonne Kilrane (15), Katie Tyrell (15), Valerie Donegan (15) and Niall Tiernan (14), all from Leitrim.

Yvonne Kilrane (15), Katie Tyrell (15), Valerie Donegan (15) and Niall Tiernan (14), all from Leitrim.

A child at the show eats ice cream in the warm sun

A child at the show eats ice cream in the warm sun

David Cunningham at the Balmoral show

David Cunningham at the Balmoral show

John Charmichael with one of the eagles

John Charmichael with one of the eagles

Gwen Scott with her horse at the Balmoral show

Gwen Scott with her horse at the Balmoral show

Robert and Sylvia Steele, horse owners from Comber

Robert and Sylvia Steele, horse owners from Comber

Conor O Donaghue (28), charity worker from Limerick and Kevin O Leary (24) from Cork.

Conor O Donaghue (28), charity worker from Limerick and Kevin O Leary (24) from Cork.

Noel Regan (65) from Roscommon with his wife Ann Regan (55) from Swansea and John Stewart (59) from Moneydig.

Noel Regan (65) from Roscommon with his wife Ann Regan (55) from Swansea and John Stewart (59) from Moneydig.

John Stewart (59) from Moneydig.

John Stewart (59) from Moneydig.

UUP European election candidate Jim Nicholson on his tractor

UUP European election candidate Jim Nicholson on his tractor

Belfast sculptor, Rachel Dickson working on the Dromona cheesy replicas of First and deputy First Ministers, Peter Robinson MP MLA and Martin McGuinness MP

Belfast sculptor, Rachel Dickson working on the Dromona cheesy replicas of First and deputy First Ministers, Peter Robinson MP MLA and Martin McGuinness MP

Ruth Wilson, 24, who is competing in the Small Hunters Equestrian Event.

Ruth Wilson, 24, who is competing in the Small Hunters Equestrian Event.

Children enjoy their day at the Balmoral Show

Children enjoy their day at the Balmoral Show

Geoff Holden Director of Exhibition Stand Design and Construction finishes putting together one of the stands

Geoff Holden Director of Exhibition Stand Design and Construction finishes putting together one of the stands

Laverne Bell, Renny McKeown and Johanna Hobes from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency finish putting up their display

Laverne Bell, Renny McKeown and Johanna Hobes from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency finish putting up their display

Alison Connelly and Kenny Gracy with Forthill Ellen

Alison Connelly and Kenny Gracy with Forthill Ellen

Gary Hanna from Draperhill and Money Nabane Limousins brushes the cows

Gary Hanna from Draperhill and Money Nabane Limousins brushes the cows

Eilidh Duncan with her horse "Flightpath"

Eilidh Duncan with her horse "Flightpath"

The Balmoral Show first day. People view what it has to offer

The Balmoral Show first day. People view what it has to offer

Julie McConkey with Mishna

Julie McConkey with Mishna

One of the judges at the Balmoral Show

One of the judges at the Balmoral Show

People view what goes on at the balmoral show

People view what goes on at the balmoral show

Ayesha Akkari, Tiffinee Dickson, Alanna Dickson and Jennifer Sloan at the petting den

Ayesha Akkari, Tiffinee Dickson, Alanna Dickson and Jennifer Sloan at the petting den

The horses which compete in equestrian competitions

The horses which compete in equestrian competitions

Kathryn Moore (5) from Ballyclare 'Says Dromona Cheese' with her cheesiest smile at the Dale Farm stand at the Balmoral Show 2009

Kathryn Moore (5) from Ballyclare 'Says Dromona Cheese' with her cheesiest smile at the Dale Farm stand at the Balmoral Show 2009

Hannah Mahood (4) from Donaghadee 'Says Dromona Cheese' with her cheesiest smile at the Dale Farm stand at the Balmoral Show 2009

Hannah Mahood (4) from Donaghadee 'Says Dromona Cheese' with her cheesiest smile at the Dale Farm stand at the Balmoral Show 2009

Martin Rogan at The Balmoral Show

Martin Rogan at The Balmoral Show

Arlene Foster (centre) with Sean Owens and Diana Porter, Ulster Pork and Bacon Forum

Arlene Foster (centre) with Sean Owens and Diana Porter, Ulster Pork and Bacon Forum

Arlene Foster (centre) with Clarke Miller, Miller Savory Foods and Clarke Black Chairman Food Promotion Northern Ireland.

Arlene Foster (centre) with Clarke Miller, Miller Savory Foods and Clarke Black Chairman Food Promotion Northern Ireland.

Farmer showing off their prize sheep

Farmer showing off their prize sheep

The 2009 Balmoral Show at the King's Hall

The 2009 Balmoral Show at the King's Hall

A young farmer shows off his prize bull

A young farmer shows off his prize bull

2 year old Sam Geary finds himself a huge toilet to sit on at the NI Water stand

2 year old Sam Geary finds himself a huge toilet to sit on at the NI Water stand

10 year old Fay Stockdale enjoying the Children's Farm

10 year old Fay Stockdale enjoying the Children's Farm

Young Lamas are a star attraction with the children

Young Lamas are a star attraction with the children

Art College student Jonny Shields puts the finishing touches to his First Minister, Peter Robinson, and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, made from cheese

Art College student Jonny Shields puts the finishing touches to his First Minister, Peter Robinson, and Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, made from cheese

"One heavy weight Champion meets another" Martin Rogan with prize winning bull Son Of Rocky

"One heavy weight Champion meets another" Martin Rogan with prize winning bull Son Of Rocky

Finishing touches are put to a horse, on day one of the annual Royal Ulster Agricultural Show

Finishing touches are put to a horse, on day one of the annual Royal Ulster Agricultural Show

Tea and sandwiches are served in the horse trials area

Tea and sandwiches are served in the horse trials area

Competitors in the horse trials area on day one of the annual Royal Ulster Agricultural Show

Competitors in the horse trials area on day one of the annual Royal Ulster Agricultural Show

A competitor gets ready to compete in an equestrian event

A competitor gets ready to compete in an equestrian event

A farmer power washes a bull prior to showing

A farmer power washes a bull prior to showing

Farmers relax on day one of the annual Royal Ulster Agricultural Show

Farmers relax on day one of the annual Royal Ulster Agricultural Show

Commonwealth Champion Martin Rogan with St.Kevins pupils at the Balmoral Show

Commonwealth Champion Martin Rogan with St.Kevins pupils at the Balmoral Show

SDLP European Election candidate Alban Maginness MLA squares up to Belfast's Commonwealth heavyweight champion Martin Rogan at the Balmoral Show

SDLP European Election candidate Alban Maginness MLA squares up to Belfast's Commonwealth heavyweight champion Martin Rogan at the Balmoral Show

One of the horses in the stables

One of the horses in the stables

One of the Black Alpine goats which are very rare

One of the Black Alpine goats which are very rare

The horses which are brought down to be judged

The horses which are brought down to be judged

People view what goes on at the balmoral show

People view what goes on at the balmoral show

A llama at the Balmoral Show

A llama at the Balmoral Show

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Preparations underway at the Balmoral Show as people get ready for 3 days of showjumping and cattle showing

Over 70,000 people are expected to converge on south Belfast from today as Ireland’s biggest agricultural show gets under way.

The first of the visitors began trickling through the doors of the King’s Hall this morning, hoping for an early glimpse of the livestock waiting for their chance in the spotlight.

The organisers hope to beat last year’s record of 70,000 visitors with even more flocking to the Balmoral Show to enjoy the sights and sounds of the countryside — everything from prize-winning cattle, sheep, pigs and horses to showjumpers and motocross stars.

Visitors can also expect to rub shoulders with all sorts of well-known people, from Olympic star Dame Mary Peters to celebrity chef Jenny Bristow, and from Bob the Builder to Irish president Mary McAleese, who will be returning to her home city to enjoy the traditional hospitality of the Department of Agriculture breakfast tomorrow morning.

The competitors in the Best Dressed awards will be brave indeed if they decide to break out the floaty summer styles as temperatures are predicted to remain inexorably low at 11C, with showers interrupting the sunshine.

A spokeswoman for forecasters Meteogroup said: “It’s going to be bright but with a fair amount of cloud around and a risk of showers mainly in the afternoon.

“The best of the sunshine will be in the morning and there will be high of 11C so it will be chilly.”

Among this year’s new attractions are new livestock classes such as the Ridden Clydesdales and Miniature Horses, while the former Food Pavilion has expanded into a Food Village featuring Northern Ireland’s finest home-grown produce, from organic fruit and vegetables to home-baked breads and tarts.

Home-grown companies such as Superchamp, Provenance Salads and the Armagh Cider Company will show off their wares alongside the retail giants such as Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

Cookery demonstrations, competitions and tasting sessions will run over the three days, with the chance to try everything from potatoes, pak choi and pork to cheese, cake and ice cream.

And if you spot something that looks suspiciously like a golden calf, don’t worry — you’re not hallucinating the Bible book of Exodus. This valuable Brit Art style bovine sculpture — made from thousands of highly polished coins — is set to outshine all the beef champions today when it is unveiled at the show.

The pedigree cash cow, commissioned by show principal sponsor Ulster Bank in aid of a rural charity, has been created by local artists Ben Allen and Katie Blue. It will be on display at the Ulster Bank Pavilion before being broken up after the show, with all of the £2, £1, 20p, 10p and 5p used to make it going to Rural Support. Visitors have the chance to guess the total value of the sculpture's coins for the chance to win a prize after donating £1 to the charity.

Full information, including parking arrangements, is available at www.balmoralshow.co.uk.


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