Sponge cakes, two drakes, spuds, wildflowers, handwriting, six eggs, two onions, turf, hay, bonny babys, best ewe, two-year-old heifer, three-year-old mare and working dogs. There’s a class for just about everything at a summer show.

It’s a super family day out and I’d encourage everybody to get out and support them. More than any other year, shows need a nod of encouragement this year form the wider farming community.

The anticipation is building and the excitement is palpable in many cattle, sheep and horse yards around the country at the prospects of getting back to shows in 2022.

It’s been three years since animals have entered show rings and after false dawns in 2020 and 2021, the stage is finally set for the country’s 134 agricultural shows to kick back into action over the next few months.

For many show committees, it’s a new set of volunteers who are taking on the job of running the local show in 2022. There has been a big push from the Irish Shows Association to get young people involved this year.

It’s critical for this to happen to safeguard the future of our shows. Local voluntary committees deserve huge credit for the time and work involved in running a show.

Weeks of preparation and a huge team of volunteers make show days run smoothly. Shows have a big role to play in bridging the rural-urban divide and for many urban dwellers, it’s the only chance they get to talk to farmers and exhibitors about what they do and how they do it.

The importance of this engagement cannot be underestimated. In my mind, shows represent everything good about rural Ireland. In this week’s showing Focus, we report from the National Hall of Fame awards.

We also preview the Aldi Irish Angus championships at Iverk Show, we have a full list of all the shows to take place in 2022 and a message from the Irish Shows Association president Catherine Gallagher.