FOR many decades now, the Newcastle West Show has been one of the county’s traditional summer events.
And this summer, the organisers intend honouring that tradition with panache, holding on to the tried and tested, introducing new elements and, crucially, trying to revive the cattle-showing section of the show.
Speaking after the launch of this year’s show, which will take place on Sunday, July 19, show chairman Peter Leonard said they hoped to revive the cattle-showing section.
“We want people who are interested in cattle showing to come to us. We need someone who has an interest in it to come on the committee to help revive it,” he explained.
As a long-time member of the organising committee, Mr Leonard added that he was very pleased that new members had come on board.
“We were originally a horse-show, then an agricultural show. Now we are seen to be a show with entertainment for everyone,” he said.
One of this year’s big attractions is the All-Ireland Donkey Derby Championship, and anything up to 30 donkeys are expected to be taking part. Donkey Derbys, remarked Mr Leonard, seem to have undergone a revival.
Another new element this year will be terrier racing and the organisers plan to develop the Food Village concept which has proven to be very popular over the past few years. The emphasis will be on artisan foods but there will be pizzas, coffees and of course, chips, as well.
This year too, by popular demand, dancing is to be introduced, as part of the live entertainment which will go on throughout the day.
“We are the only show in the country to have a qualifier for the RDS Loose Performance Class for three-year olds,” Mr Leonard explained.
The final at the RDS carries a prize fund of €80,000.
This year also, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, in conjunction with Horse Sport Ireland, has provided funding for a new national competition for performance based foals.
There are to be five regional qualifiers, Mr Leonard explained, and their hope is that Newcastle West will become one of those qualifiers, each of which carries a €4000 prize fund. The finals come with a €20,000 purse.
The Connolly Red Mills Munster Grand Prix will of course be a big feature event in this year’s programme, with a €2,000 Prize Fund and there will be a wide variety of horse and pony classes, including show-jumping, working hunter, side-saddle and more.
Adding to all this activity will be the trade stands, the different competitions including the dog show and Pets’ Corner and a lot of attractions for children and all on Terence Leonard’s land at Ballynoe.
Shows like the Newcastle West Show are very important in country towns, Minister of State for Agriculture, Tom Hayes said when he attended the launch of the show in Newcastle West recently.