A light shower of rain in the early afternoon did not dampen spirits among visitors at the first day of the Balmoral Show on Wednesday.

There was a buzz around the showgrounds from early morning, something that was largely missing when a scaled back version of the event took place last September.

Rachel Garrett and her five-year-old daughter Summer from Loughside Dexters, Islandmagee, Co Antrim, preparing for the show ring at this year's Balmoral Show. \ Houston Green

After two years of disruption due to COVID-19, the show has returned to its usual mid-May slot, with livestock exhibitions, shearing competitions and hundreds of trade stands all operating as normal.

Organisers of the event near Lisburn, Co Down, are expecting 100,000 visitors over the four days from Wednesday to Saturday.

Heather and Ross Gordon from Donaghadee Co. Down with their children Erin, Isaac and Ollie at Balmoral Show. \ Houston Green

Among those in attendance were Patrick and Nichola Hughes, with their three children, Sarah, Pádraig and Róisín.“We came up the road from Cootehill, Co Cavan, this morning. We have never been at Balmoral before.

“The kids had always wanted to come to it, so we decided to take the day off to see what it is like,” Patrick said.

Emma Conway from Strabane with her Valais Blacknose ram at Balmoral Show. \ Houston Green

“It’s a big event but it’s well laid out, which makes it easy to walk around. We are most interested in seeing the Charolais classes being judged on the cattle lawn,” Nichola added.

High input costs and squeezed profit margins were key points of discussion among farmers on the first day of the event, although the overall mood was positive.

Always a firm favourite with the public at the RUAS Balmoral Show: Marcus Galbraith from Coleraine Co. Derry with one of his goats. \ Houston Green

Those in attendance seemed more than happy to be there enjoying their first proper show since 2019.