Balmoral Show in September – many factors to consider

There’s nothing I enjoy more than a day out at Balmoral Show. But, in truth, replicating what normally takes place at Balmoral Park in Lisburn in May, during late September instead, will be some feat on the part of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society (RUAS).

To begin with, all of the cattle and sheep normally destined for Balmoral Show will, come September, be either sold or being prepared for some form of breeding programme.

The weather, too, will also play a part in determining the success – or otherwise – of a September event. If the sun comes out to play, I can see farmers voting with their feet and heading for the fields.

Timing of Balmoral Show 2021

Late September is always a make or break time when it comes to getting the cereal harvest over the line and getting a few silage bales made.

Up to this point, I am not aware of the detail regarding the plan by RUAS to physically manage the crowds that come to the September event.

Surely, this is an issue that they will have to go public on in the very near future.

Meanwhile, events that would normally take place in the late summer / early autumn period continue to be cancelled.

The Irish National Ploughing Championships exhibition, that would have been held between September 15 and 17, this year, has been cancelled, as have all of the major farm shows in England, Scotland and Wales.

The only exception to this trend that I am aware of is ‘UK Dairy Day’, which takes place in Telford, Shropshire on September 15. However, this is very much a trade event and offers the scope to provide strict controls on the number of visitors attending.

And, no doubt, the RUAS will be striving to replicate this scenario when it comes to hosting Northern Ireland’s Winter Fair in early December.

Revenues from shows

But, at the end of the day, this is all about money. The RUAS has made no secret of the fact that it lost out on very significant income-generating opportunities last year because of the Covid-19 lockdown.

And I can’t see Balmoral 2021 being a great money spinner for the society. So why go ahead with the event at all?

The Royal Highland and Welsh Show societies took the decision not to go ahead in 2021. But significantly, they both succeeded in securing significant support packages from the Scottish and Welsh Executives.

I see no reason why the RUAS cannot put a genuine case for support to Stormont, given the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

It would then be a case of keeping one’s powder dry and relaunching Balmoral Show in a very meaningful way at the beginning of May 2022.