The cattle section of one of Ireland’s most popular shows has been cancelled due to a lack of sponsorship.
The Athlone Agricultural Show is one of Ireland’s most popular shows and sees an average of 4,000 to 5,000 people go through the gates per year.
Speaking to the Irish Farmers Journal, Gillian Kinahan, general secretary of the show’s voluntary committee, said that the decision was not an easy one to make, but it came down to basic lack of sponsorship.
“Shows have generally had a hard time in recent years,” she said, “and our show is no different. Last year was particularly bad weather-wise and there were a couple of sports events on the same day so footfall fell to about half of what it usually is.
We fully intend to bring it back next year bigger and better than ever
“We kept the cattle section going through the recessionary times when maybe we shouldn’t have and it was perhaps to the detriment of other sections in the show such as sheep and horses but with the lack of sponsorship this year we decided that rather than put on a bad cattle section we would just regroup and rethink it. We fully intend to bring it back next year bigger and better than ever.”
Kinahan said the show has always been very proud of its cattle section and it will be sure to target sponsors for the section earlier next year.
A great pity
Michael Flanagan, former chair of the show’s committee, said it is a pity that the cattle section is not included in this year’s show.
“Back when I started as chairman over 14 years ago, the cattle section was very small. It had maybe only 25 to 30 animals. Now it has over 300, it has excellent facilities – probably the best in the country – and it is very popular with the public. It is a pity to see it go this year after all the hard work that has been put into it over the years and I hope it will be back next year.”
Agricultural shows have been struggling to stay afloat in recent years due to a number of factors including the recession, a declining number of volunteers, falls in sponsorship, bad weather, and competition from other events, both televised and live.
The Carnew Agricultural Show was cancelled last year due to financial constraints and a decline in the number of volunteers. The show hopes to get back up and running this year and has just held its first fundraiser to get itself back on track for 2017.