“It will be bigger and better than ever before,” says Irish Shows Association (ISA) national secretary Jim Harrison as he looks forward to what he predicts will be a bumper revival year for 129 agricultural events around the country. “We have already run six very well-attended shows and I am finding that after two years of COVID-19 shutdown, people are chomping at the bit to get out. I am actually warning shows that given any kind of good weather they must brace themselves for better than ever crowds.”
Jim also speaks very enthusiastically about some new funding that has come ISA’s way which will help shows get up and running after the two-year layoff. The Department of Rural and Community Development has committed €700,000 toward running costs that will be divided equally between the 129 affiliated events. He emphasises that the costs facing these fixtures for items like tents, rosettes and catering have gone up by at least 25%.
While he is very happy that ISA has once again secured insurance for this season, he also stated that the overall package has gone up by 23.5% and the excess payable on any major claim has doubled from €5,000 to €10,000.
It is truly good to see that the value of these annual rural events is being more and more recognised by the various Government departments
Just announced is a new LEADER grant of €313,000 aimed at encouraging shows to embrace new technologies. For example, Jim Harrison points out that many people pay for tickets by card or phone but tapping at the gate would make life much easier for stewards on duty at each event. Greater use of technology would also help in the creation of programmes and catalogues. Work has already begun on building this important project. Shows will have to individually apply for a share of this money.
Also, Jim envisages that in order to help with extra costs there will be an increase in entry charges at most shows. It could be going from say €10 per person to €12.50 or €25 for two.
All of the usual All-Ireland Championships in the horse section are returning this year. In the cattle section there is a new Department of Agriculture incentive scheme for four- and five-star breeding heifers, a fund that is worth €250,000 over a five-year period.
It is truly good to see that the value of these annual rural events is being more and more recognised by the various Government departments. Grants mentioned by Jim are an indication of that. Long may they and the wonderful shows of Ireland continue.