Celebrating Balmoral and the best of NI with special programme - UTV at the show

UTV at the show, Balmoral
UTV News
Reporter Sarah Clarke showcases the best of Northern Ireland agriculture in UTV at the show. Credit: UTV News

‘I told the midwives I was going to Balmoral but they didn’t believe me. Nothing could keep me away.’

Vet and Rare Breed star Claire Shearer told me as she beamed with pride at her son Rory. 

At just three days old, he was no doubt the youngest ever spectator and TV contributor at the show when we interviewed his mum. 

Claire, along with husband Davy Kincaid, swept the boards at the last show in September with her mare Bonnie. 

And with two ponies already Rory will be following in his family’s footsteps as soon as he turns toddler. 

The youngest spectator at the Balmoral show. Credit: UTV News

From newborn babies to newborn wallabies. In this job every day is different but I certainly wasn’t expecting that.

And neither it seems was Glenpark estate, whose owners brought along their Red Deer and Valais Blacknose Sheep too.

We met Dexter farmer Susan McCullough frantically preparing her heifer for the ring - a hairdresser by trade. 

A transferable skill l thought when it comes to preparing cows. 

I caught her lamenting how her short-staffed husband and son couldn’t make it in time to show their cattle so it would fall to her - for the first time.

It didn’t impact the result of the class we filmed as the humble Holywood woman brought home the prized red rosette. 

Behind the camaraderie (for the cameras perhaps) there’s intense competition.

I overheard some not so subtle trash talking between families.

They may all be ‘friends’ but they’re also rivals and there’s some serious prize money to be won - thousands in the main arena show jumping.

But it’s the value added to their stock which a placing at the biggest agricultural show in Northern Ireland can bring. 

Farming is historically male-dominated but times are changing.

The newly elected president of the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society Christine Adams is the first female in over twenty years and only the second women ever to hold that post. 

As well as the amazing and unflappable organiser Rhonda Geary who’s been the beating heart of this event for decades. 

It was an early start for us every day and I relished those moments before the gates opened and the crowds poured in. 

UTV's Paul Reilly and Sarah Clarke meet the people who make Balmoral what it is. Credit: UTV News

There’s a special atmosphere at that time of the morning. The horses warming up in the equine area.

The unmistakable sound of hair driers in the cattle sheds. 

The bleary eyed competitors who stay onsite overnight in their trailers.

It’s been a challenging time for farming with the rise in the three Fs: feed, fuel and fertiliser.

There are warnings of further price hikes to come for both producers and consumers.

Paul Reilly and Sarah Clarke present UTV at the show.

The resilience displayed by the agriculture community and the respite provided by the Balmoral show is what I’ll take away from our four days filming.

How important it is for us all to have a sustainable, viable industry.

And how much this townie loves going back to her culchie roots.

So join Paul Reilly and me for UTV at the show on Tuesday at 10.45pm