After 18 months of COVID-19 restrictions the first ever Balmoral Show to be held in the autumn was an important step towards normality.

Attendance on Wednesday was low, but as the week went on, momentum built, and by Saturday the event was at its COVID-19 limit of 25,000.

That perhaps points to a future conundrum for the RUAS.

If the aim is to maximise numbers it could opt to drop the Wednesday and extend the Show into a Sunday, but that is probably not a move that would be widely welcomed by trade exhibitors.

The core audience for most exhibitors is farmers, and while the Show was busy on Saturday, many were there for a day out with the family, rather than having any intention of conducting business.

On the other hand, Balmoral Show exposes the wider public to the agri-food industry, and given the negativity thrown at the industry in recent months, it is an important opportunity to educate, and remind consumers, about the critical role of agri-food to the NI economy.


Last week’s event should also give some confidence that future shows can take place in a way that is relatively safe both for exhibitors and attendees, especially when the event is predominantly outside, and the weather is kind.

However, given the current pressures on food processors, it was understandable that some chose not to attend, or had a limited presence.

But the general public understand that COVID-19 has changed how we all must conduct business, and perhaps the days of people queuing up for free hospitality are gone for the time being.

Looking ahead, the RUAS are planning to hold the Winter Fair on Thursday 9 December.

A predominantly indoor event, it potentially faces more operational challenges, and under current regulations, face coverings will be a must.

A big thank you to all the farmers who took the time to call by our stand last week.

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