Thousands expected to attend Balmoral
Around 115,000 people are expected to descend on the Balmoral Show over the next four days as the agricultural extravaganza begins tomorrow.
The celebration of Northern Ireland's agri-food sector, which is supported by Ulster Bank, features machinery, livestock and food attractions and marks its 150th anniversary this year.
And it will be the first year since 2005 without Colin McDonald at the helm, after he retired as chief executive of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society. Instead, Alan Crowe will be leading celebrations as Colin's successor.
Richard Ramsey, chief economist of Ulster Bank, said it was hard to quantify the direct economic impact of the show, with attendees spending on items such as food, toys, sweets, crafts and equipment. But he added: "Much more significant is the wider economic impact of the show in terms of the promotion of the agri-food and drink sector as a very diverse industry. It is hard to overstate the importance of the sector to the Northern Ireland economy in terms of job creation and sales outside the local market.
"The show plays an important role in energising and celebrating this sector, as well as showcasing good practice."
Hopes to eclipse last year's 115k visitors
In 2017, Balmoral Show drew over 115,000 visitors across four days.
A spokeswoman for organiser, the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society, said: "We expect visitor numbers to be similar or exceed that of last year. We have 650 trade stands at this year's show, including an extended plant machinery section. This year also marks the 150th Balmoral Show.
"We are celebrating this milestone with a special anniversary display which includes archive photography and a timeline of the show's history. We have 2,500 livestock in total at the show, and around 2,500 small bales of straw are used throughout the show."
Last year was the first time in decades that the show took place over four days.