After a wet couple of weeks, sunshine brought crowds out to the Castlewellan Agricultural Show in their droves. Big O from Q Radio broadcast his programme live from the site and created a lively atmosphere around their bus. Newry, Mourne & Down District Council Chairperson Gillian Fitzpatrick did a walk around with our Show Patron Karen Patterson, President Walter Watson DARD Chief Veterinary Officer Robert Huey. The number of families was particularly noticeable and children crowded to see the various animals including rabbits, goats and pigs with the newly added pygmy goats and Kune Kune pigs proving particularly popular. They also got a chance to view spinning, felt making, threshing, and admire the vintage agricultural machinery brought along by Lower Mourne Vintage Club. Castlewellan was delighted to help promote the NI Year of Food & Drink 2016 with over 30 producers in our gourmet food tent and Sea Source from Kilkeel profiling fish dishes with some demonstrations and samples. The craft tent was full all day with people walking through perusing the 70 stalls. The ice cream sellers did particularly well and with another 100 trade stands throughout the field, there was plenty of money changing hands. David Duncan was kept occupied overseeing the dog agility ring which entertained onlookers all day as more than 220 dogs of different sizes and breeds were put through their paces. The crowds seemed to enjoy it more when the dog decided to go its own way across the hurdles. Once again the poultry tent was exceptionally busy as people snaked their way past the cages with a variety of hens and ducks. Raymond Bready did a fantastic job of compering the day, interviewing exhibitors and visitors and reuniting lost children.
In the more traditional show sections, the cattle rings were busy all day with great calibre across the various classes. The afternoon parade featured sixty of the Show’s best cattle and once again Libby Clarke entertained the crowd with information on the breeds and the breeders. The sheep numbers were on a par with last year and it was good to see so many young handlers in the pens, the next generation learning their craft. Horses and ponies have always been a significant element of Castlewellan Show and though numbers were a little lower due to the Dublin Horse Show’s new date, the completion was high. 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 other antics with YFC President local woman Roberta Simmons in attendance to keep an eye on proceedings.
Save The Children hosted the vintage tea tent with a steady stream of visitors matching the never ending supply of tray bakes. There was plenty of advice on hand from Age NI, South Eastern Trust’s health development team and Citizen’s Advice. The fashion marquee featured a lovely ion of Target Dry and Joules clothing from Lila’s in Armagh. Our new Castlewellan Show aprons sold very well with lots of gentlemen buying them for their wives! There was great drama with skits from the Johnny and Molly show and musical performances all afternoon in the beer tent. The PSNI tractor and community support team were a great hit with young people and the array of shiny agricultural machinery on the field got many admiring glances, but not quite as many as our Best Dressed Lady Henrietta Hunter and Best Dressed Gent Barry McCaughey.
The home industries tent was thronged from early morning with a huge array of crafts, baking, sewing, embroidery, art, photography, scarecrows and handwriting. The special class of Twiddlemuffs was organised with Age NI and as a result all 127 twiddlemuffs which were made will be distributed to older people in the wider area who have dementia. The Show hosted the County Down Chocolate Cake of the Year which was won by Jean Ruddy. The overall award, the Moorcroft salver, went to Sarah McComb who had a wide range of winning entries in baking and crafts.
A very tired but happy Show Secretary Jackie Fitzpatrick thanked the many volunteers who work hard all year to pull this one day event together so it can be enjoyed by people from far and wide. A special thanks to all of our many sponsors particularly our gold sponsors EDA Media, Newry, Mourne & Down District Council and NI Tourism. Photographs from the day are on our facebook page and results are on our website www.castlewellanshow.com