Organisers of Tullamore Show, which took place on Butterfield Estate on August 12, have linked a decreased attendance at this year's show to the Olympics. Upwards of 50,000 attended this year's show, down from approximately 60,000 last year. In a statement this week organisers said they realised they were competing with the Olympics and that this impacted visitor numbers. However they added that they were happy with the show day attendance and were also blessed with good weather in the run-up to the show.
Last Sunday saw the Tullamore Show and AIB National Livestock Show celebrate its 21st successful year. Aptly, 21 prestigious gold medals were handed out at the show, which was once described by former Taoiseach Brian Cowen as the "Olympics of Agriculture". This year's event was an international affair, with visitors from all across Europe and dignitaries from around the world. Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney opened the event, praising organisers, highlighting the event's importance to the national farming community and referencing the difficult summer farmers are experiencing this year. Other dignitaries present on the day included Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in the Northern Assembly Michelle O'Neill and MEP Mairead McGuinness. Representing the international community was Australian Ambassador to Ireland Bruce Davies, Deputy Head of Mission at the German Embassy in Dublin Peter Zingraf and Third Secretary at the Economic and Commerical Counsellor's Office of the Embassy of the Peoples' Republic of China Mr Daniel Gao. The visit of Mr Xi Jinping to Ireland earlier this year to an Irish farm appears to have inspired an interest in the area, as Mr Gao was joined by a contingent of ten from the Chinese Embassy.
With bad weather the traditional enemy of Tullamore Show, organisers could but laugh at having to spray tracks and roadways with water to keep dust down during last week's heatwave. The day of the show itself saw showers, but none heavy enough to dampen the spirits of the crowds at the show.
The show had over 650 trade stands displaying the best of Irish enterprise, with everything from artisan food to displays of large agricultural machinery. A vintage section was introduced for the first time this year, as well as a ladies' tractor building competition. Also new to the show this year was a hand shearing competition, which proved an attractive challenge.
Chef Neven Maguire was on hand with Bord Bia's Sheila J Kelly to demonstrate the best recipes from quality Irish meat, with a focus this year on Irish lamb. The Meat Village, now in its second year, focussed on the producer element of the cycle.
Cattle, sheep and horse classes at the show had a successful day also, with entrants and winners from the length and breadth of the country. Minister Coveney was present to award prizes alongside show secretary Freda Kinnarney, chairman George Gill and AIB regional director Eddie Buckley.
See more details on show results in this week's Offaly Independent.