Sunshine sees record numbers make their way to Castlewellan

Sunshine sees record numbers make their way to Castlewellan

18 July 2018

THE continuing heatwave saw record numbers attend this year’s Castlewellan Agricultural Show. 

The highly acclaimed event prides itself on profiling great livestock, local produce and equestrian classes, but remains committed to ensuring there is lots to do for the whole family. 

For many locals, the annual show is an opportunity to catch up with friends and neighbours, with last weekend’s event attracting visitors from Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, including over 40 members from Virginia Show in Co Cavan who were visiting as part of a cross-border trip. 

The number of families was particularly noticeable and children crowded to see the various animals including rabbits, pigs and goats with the very cute pygmy goats proving particularly popular.   

The tent which housed the Mayobridge Farm Model was thronged all day, while visitors also got a chance to view spinning, felt making, and threshing and admire the vintage agricultural machinery brought along by Lower Mourne Vintage Club. 

Raymond Bready was back again with a microphone in his hand and did a fantastic job as compere, interviewing exhibitors and visitors and reuniting lost children with grown ups. 

Castlewellan was delighted to receive support from DAERA’s NI Regional Food and Drink Programme and showcased almost 20 producers in the gourmet food tent.  

As a host for a qualifier for the All Ireland Irish Shows’ Association Home Cook competition, celebrity chef Adrian Martin performed cookery demonstrations throughout the day using local produce.

The craft tent was thronged with people walking through perusing the 60 stalls, while David Duncan was kept occupied overseeing the dog agility ring which entertained onlookers all day as more than 150 dogs of different sizes and breeds were put through their paces. 

The poultry entry this year exceeded 550 birds and was relocated to a larger tent which still was packed. The additional birds and constant flow of people made for an exceptionally busy tent as people snaked their way past the cages to view a great variety of hens and ducks. 

There were new Poultry Club of Great Britain classes with winners receiving a lovely embossed poultry club card. Also popular were the new classes for poultry art which brought out the creative side of many and the addition of displays of caged birds and hamsters. The McKibbin family took Show Champion with a white call who won the waterfowl class.

In the more traditional show sections, the cattle rings were busy all day with great calibre across the various classes. The Linden Foods Supreme Beef Championship was won by a fine Charolais owned by Joe Wilson and Sons, with the Fleming Family awarded the Ulster Bank Silver Cow for the champion dairy cow for their Jersey.  

The afternoon parade featured 60 of the show’s best cattle with Maggie McQuiston providing a lively commentary on the breeds and the breeders.  The Simmental Breeders Club set up a stall selling raffle tickets to raise funds for the Air Ambulance in memory of Thelma Gorman and was well supported.  

Sheep numbers exceeded 700 entries and people jostled for a good spot to watch the judging for the Danske Bank NISA Sheep champion final which was won by William McAllister and it was great to see so many young handlers in the pens, with the next generation learning their craft.    While much of the jumping took place in the top corner of the field, Mossvale Riding Club’s unaffiliated jumping provided some thrills in the main arenas.  Along with this were some of the in hand and hackney and driving classes where elegance and skill was on display.   

The Young Farmers attracted a great crowd for their tug of war and machinery handling competitions and also hosted the Northern Ireland final of the Build It competition which was a real crowd puller. Rathfriland YFC did Co. Down proud with third place, but Derry YFC and Trillick & District were just ahead taking first and second place respectively.   

Because of the warm weather, the home industries tent for the first time had no sides so visitors could watch the judging in progress. Once people were allowed in, it was busy from early morning with a huge array of crafts, baking, sewing, embroidery, art, photography, scarecrows and handwriting.  The overall award — the Moorcroft salver — went to Sara McComb, while the schools’ section attracted over 1,500 entries and the make your own unicorn from recycled materials class was very popular.

The Save The Children vintage tea tent had a steady stream of visitors matching the never ending supply of tray bakes and plenty of advice was on hand from organisations such as the Ulster Farmers’ Union, Ulster Wildlife Trust, Rural Support, RSPB, Farm Families Health Check and Citizen’s Advice.

The fashion marquee featured a lovely selection of clothing from Lila’s in Armagh along with Target Dry’s new Lighthouse range. The PSNI tractor and community support team were a great hit with young people as were the Fire and Rescue Service promoting the importance of safety and security. 

Trade stands included a wonderful array of shiny agricultural machinery and products on the field while towards the end of the afternoon, the Silverstream Sheepdog display engaged over 40 children as ducks and geese were herded skilfully in the main arena to the delight of kids and parents alike.

Show secretary Jackie Fitzpatrick was delighted with the weather which graced another very successful event. She acknowledged the many volunteers who work hard all year to pull the event together so it can be enjoyed by people from far and wide.  

Organisers also wish to thank show sponsors, particularly EDA Media, Newry, Mourne and Down Council and DAERA NI Regional Food Programme. More photographs from the day are available on the show’s Facebook page, with detailed results are available on its website,