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Crowds Surge To Celebrate Castlewellan Agricultural Show’s 50th Anniversary

17 July 2017

Despite some overnight rain, this year’s Castlewellan Show saw the biggest crowd in a number of years.  Committee members were joined by Newry, Mourne & Down District Chairperson Roisin Mulgrew, DAERA Permanent Secretary Noel Lavery and Anna May McHugh, President National Ploughing Association. 

The Show 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 it is an opportunity to catch up with friends and neighbours, but Show Day attracted visitors from the Republic of Ireland and Scotland along with a variety of languages including Italian, Spanish, Polish and French heard around the field.  The number of families was particularly noticeable and children crowded to see the various animals including rabbits, goats and pigs, Amberley Alpacas, with the very cute pygmy goats and Kune Kune pigs proving particularly popular.   The tent which housed the Mayobridge Farm Model was thronged all day.  Visitors also got a chance to view spinning, felt making, threshing, and admire the vintage agricultural machinery brought along by Lower Mourne Vintage Club.  Big O from Q Radio broadcast from the grounds created a lively atmosphere around their bus. 

BBC Northern Ireland were on site to film some of the young pig handlers in action and earlier in the morning Molly and Cecil Robinson appeared on Radio Ulster’s Your Place and Mine talking about memories of the Show and farming over the last 50 years.  Raymond Bready also had a mike in his hand and did a fantastic job of compering the day, interviewing exhibitors and visitors and reuniting lost children.  

Castlewellan was delighted to receive support from DAERA’s NI Regional Food and Drink Programme and showcased over 25 producers in the gourmet food tent with cookery/baking demonstrations during the day.   The craft tent was packed all day with people walking through perusing the 70 stalls.   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.  As well as a competition, the agility attracts the largest number of spectators who delight in the dogs being obedient and more often doing their own thing.  The poultry entry this year had doubled to over 400 which proved a challenge for the new chairperson Andrew Bingham who had recently taken over following the sudden tragic death of Ally Whan.   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 variety of hens and ducks.   

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 with Libby Clarke providing a lively commentary 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.    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

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 organisations such as Ulster Farmers Union, Age NI, Ulster Wildlife Trust, Rural Support, Citizen’s Advice and a doctor from the Public Health Agency along with two nurses from Belfast Trust spoke to people about becoming an organ donor.  The fashion marquee featured a lovely ion of Target Dry and Joules clothing from Lila’s in Armagh.  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 as were the Fire & Rescue Service promoting the importance of safety and security.  The trade stands included a wonderful array of shiny agricultural machinery on the field

The home industries tent was increased in size and even so was busy from early morning with a huge array of crafts, baking, sewing, embroidery, art, photography, scarecrows and handwriting.  As well as a beautiful display of Clanrye Lace, the Show retained the Twiddlemuffs class and a large supply has been made for distribution to older people in the wider area who have dementia.  Castlewellan hosted the County Down Chocolate Cake of the Year which was won by Avril McMurran.  The overall award, the Moorcroft salver, went to Lorraine Bothwell.  The schools entries took over a large section of the tent with a wonderful display of handwriting and crafts. 

Show Secretary Jackie Fitzpatrick was delighted that our 50th anniversary was such a success and 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 EDA Media, Newry, Mourne & Down District Council and DAERA NI Regional Food Programme.  Photographs from the day are on our facebook page and detailed results are on our website