A trip to Ballymoney Show is a truly unique experience as, since its inception many decades ago, North Antrim’s annual celebration of agriculture has always been totally organised by members of the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU).
The organisation’s President Martyn Blair was in attendance on Saturday past and he confirmed that the event continues to grow from strength to strength.
“Members of the Kilraughts, Finvoy and Moycraig clubs join forces every year to make the show happen. In so doing, they work closely with the North Antrim Agricultural Association, which represents all of the main farming and food organisations in the Ballymoney area,” he said.
“But, by common consent, the success of the event is an excellent example of just how proactive and positive young people can be when given the opportunity. In fact, the blueprint for Ballymoney is one which could be followed by other agricultural show societies the length and breadth of Northern Ireland.”
Meanwhile, the heavy rain which fell throughout most of Saturday did not prevent a record turnout of livestock exhibitors putting their animals up front and centre in the various show rings.
As it turned out, the McLean family from nearby Bushmills had another tremendously successful day. Following their excellent showing at Ballymena the previous week they carried the field in the cattle section at Ballymoney, winning the supreme and the dairy inter-breed championships. The victorious animal was Priestland 4951 Shot Bedazzle, a home bred Holstein cow which calved for the second time back in February.
And for good measure, the McLeans also won the Coloured Breeds’ Dairy Championship with an excellent young Jersey cow. “We have had a tremendous couple of weeks,” Iain McLean explained.
“Our aim is to have Bedazzle fit and well for the Northern Ireland Shows’ Association final, which takes place at Antrim in late July.”
The Inter Breed Beef Championship at Ballymoney was won by a three quarter bred Limousin heifer, exhibited by Jack Smyth from Newtownstewart in Co Tyrone. Significantly, the animal was judged second in her class to the Supreme Champion from the previous week’s Ballymena Show, a British Blue cross heifer shown by Moneymore man Robert Miller. However, when it came to the judging of the Inter Breed competition, the placings were reversed.
There was a tremendous turnout of Suffolks at Ballymoney on Saturday past. So it came as no surprise that the breed took the main silverware when it came to sorting out the Sheep Inter Breed Championship, which was awarded to the Watson family from Rasharkin in Co. Antrim.