“WE’RE at make or break stage at Limerick Show,” declared chairman Richard Kennedy on Sunday morning.
They did make it by lowering the price to €10, having live music, a fashion show and food experience to complement the traditional attractions of an agricultural show. A crowd of up to 20,000 was double that of 2018.
At 2pm, Limerick Racecourse is buzzing. Celia Holman Lee’s voice could be heard on the microphone describing the latest autumn/ winter fashion as her models strutted their stuff.
Below them in the shadow of the hospitality area was the display of poultry. Across the way are vintage cars and tractors. Move down further and there is archery ongoing. Walk straight up and pedigree farmers are getting their cattle for the ring.
In the parade ring is the dog show with 200 cute canines. You’d swear Istabraq and Hurricane Fly were being led around judging by the amount of onlookers. Fodhla, a friendly four-year-old Collie, belonging to Siobhan Parker and Sean Sweeney, from Castletroy, was best in show.
Showband singer Shaun O’Dowd comes on the main stage and his voices drifts over the showground.
So rock me mama like a wagon wheel
Rock me mama anyway you feel
Hey mama rock me
Rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a south-bound train
Hey mama rock me
Thankfully there was no wind and rain like last year. One farmer in the cattle section was heard say,” You can feel the heat on the back of your neck”. The sun was beating down.
Shaun had drawn a crowd that was building around the stage. The dance floor began filling as men, women and children loosened their limbs for the jiving competition.
All the seats in the new food village were taken up with people tucking into everything from sushi (yes, I said sushi) to ice cream. Inside the Food Experience tent local chefs Ross Kelly, Donal O’Sullivan, Tom Flavin and Eoin Sheehan were cooking up a storm. All around were artisan producers selling their fantastic produce.
Ronan Collins was next on stage and he was joined by Gina and the Champions. Good music, good food and good weather was a recipe for success.
Children were having a whale of time in the Kidz Zone where Mickey and Minnie Mouse were going down a storm. Runners in Dooneen Athletic Club’s Munster Mile and 5K races were milling around after their exertions. All these new additions went down a storm as did the price drop to €10.
Entries in the cattle horses, show jumping, sheep, goats, arts and crafts, photography and horticulture were excellent.
Mr Kennedy said Sunday’s Limerick Show with new music, food and fashion attractions is the way to go.
“People want to be entertained. Every section was successful. There is a lot of work gone into it. We have to get footfall for the stands to make money as well because they have to do well out of it because they won’t come back otherwise. We had a difficult year last year, we had a bad day with the weather and it clashed with the Pope’s visit.
“Today we had a fantastic crowd. I would like to thank all the people who supported us - stand holders, competitors, attendees, all the volunteers who were on their feet all day and all our sponsors. There would be no show without sponsors,” said Mr Kennedy, who also cited the Minister Michael Ring’s grant to shows.
“It is about repeating it now and making it better again next year,” he said.
Leo Walsh, show president, said it was fantastic to see the crowds streaming in. He thanked the White family for giving them an extra field to use as a car-park.
“We’re here to bring rural and urban people together. It is part of Limerick and I hope the next generation come on behind us,” said Mr Walsh.
Both men highlighted the link up the Mid-Western Cancer Foundation whose members were very visible and they look forward to making a donation to the charity.
Dickie Power, show president, summed it when he called it a “labour of love by the committee and helpers”.
After Sunday’s massive success that love affair looks set to continue for many years past its 90th birthday.
Read also: WATCH: Record crowds enjoy Limerick Show