Balmoral's inaugural four-day event 'will give visitors unforgettable experience'
Visitors experiencing the first Balmoral Show to run on a Saturday will see the cattle parade in all its glory, organisers say.
Extending Ireland's biggest agricultural show, which begins today, to four days has allowed the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society to put on something unforgettable, said chief executive Colin McDonald.
"The extra day was an opportunity to put on extra classes and it means the spectacle which will be available for the public to see will be so much better," he said.
"The highlight of the show is the cattle parade, and that has been moved to Saturday, so the new audience that comes on Saturday will see something they'll never forget."
Mr McDonald said that the now four-day event will be harder for livestock exhibitors who will have to stay with their animals for an extra night, but added: "Overall there's an optimism that it's the right thing to do. The only people that didn't come (to the show) were the people that couldn't make it during the week," he added.
"We expect to see an increase in the number of people coming up from the South where there is a tradition of going to a show on a Saturday."
Mr McDonald said he is hoping to see an increase on last year's 90,000 attendance with an improved number of events.
"One thing we've been able to bring on this year that I think is a particular highlight, is the schools' showjumping championship. The society wants to do as much as it can for the younger folk and the schools in the north and south will be able to compete in the championship on the Balmoral Show arena in front of huge crowds which they've never had the chance to do before."
New classes this year include the Champion of Champions, the Under 10 Showjumping Championships and the Interschools Showjumping Championship.
Among the youngsters looking forward to the show are brothers Eddie (10), Matthew (9), and Sam Mercer (7), from Dromara, who have been helping their uncle prepare his British Blondes for the show.
Their preparations have been showcased in an online video by Ulster Bank which has now been viewed more than 40,000 times.
Meanwhile, another schoolboy whose work will take centre stage at the show is Matthew Nelson from Down High, winner of an Ulster Bank competition.
A storyboard created by the 12-year-old was chosen from more than 500 entries to be transformed into an animated video to be used in schools across the country to educate children on farm safety.
Matthew's video uses colourful designs and catchy rhymes to illustrate the potential dangers children can encounter when they play on a farm.
Thousands of visitors will arrive at Balmoral Park outside Lisburn for food, farming excellence, entertainment and showmanship from today to Saturday.
Full details are available at the website, balmoralshow.co.uk, Facebook: Balmoral Show and Twitter: @balmoralshow