When the planned Autumn Poultry Fair at Gosford Forest Park couldn’t go ahead at this location, organiser Wilbert Forsythe, from Tully Farm Meats, was left in a quandary.
With just a week to go to the fair, he faced the prospect of cancelling – leaving himself out of pocket and depriving poultry keepers of yet another event – or rapidly finding an alternative site.
The latter choice seemed almost impossible as time was running out and the “rumour mill” was in overdrive, with claims on social media that the fair had been cancelled.
When Wilbert told me of his plight, and made it clear that he so badly wanted to run it, a number of enquiries were made.
My good friend and poultry enthusiast William ‘Billy’ Moorcroft came back to me with word that a site in the Clare area of County Armagh could be available.
Wilbert rapidly visited the location, and found the two barley field site on the Old Clare Road suitable – and the Poultry Fair was back on again thanks to Billy and Mark Trimble.
A week is not a long time when we needed to get the word out that the Poultry Fair was up and running again but at a new location, especially when it was being spread via social media and word of mouth that it had been cancelled.
Thankfully, the majority of the poultry community went about setting the record straight and spreading the word and sharing on numerous social media sites that the Poultry Fair on September 24 was going ahead at the new venue on the Old Clare Road, Clare, Tandragee.
The mainstream media also carried news of the alternative site, including of course FarmWeek on its dedicated poultry page.
Indeed, FarmWeek has been reporting poultry events across the country for decades as part of the fight to preserve our heritage poultry breeds.
The week before the sale Wilbert was flat out arranging a marquee for refreshments, toilets, directional signage and, of course, all the relevant paperwork while keeping a watch on the weather forecast, which was indicating a “mixed bag” of weather.
We all met up last Wednesday morning at the fields when the marquee was being erected and, although I regularly travel on this road, I was surprised by the extent of these fields, which allowed an exhibition area for those bringing birds to the fair and another field for spectators and possible new poultry keepers.
The following morning brought quite a deluge of rain but thankfully during Friday and Saturday the weather was mild, heralding a very nice Saturday indeed.
The gates opened at 7am but we were customarily late arriving, just after 8am, and on entering the field I couldn’t believe just how many poultry keepers had turned up.
It was a massive gathering of poultry keepers, from the person with a few pens of birds to those who had a big range of birds, such as Clogher Valley Eggs and Poultry.
Some of the top exhibitors in the country attended with their quality birds along with poultry equipment suppliers such as Strangford Agency from Comber with its range of incubators and poultry rearing equipment, and Fowl Play, from County Fermanagh, with its huge range of feeders, drinkers and poultry equipment.
The adjoining field was full of spectators and potential buyers.
During the course of the day I learnt that many had travelled great distances to be at this event and it was wonderful meeting old friends and making new acquaintances.
I was really overwhelmed when another poultry keeper travelled a long distance to bring me large young Silver Kraienkoppe fowl. As far as we could ascertain, we are the only ones with this very rare breed here .
This event and others like it are so needed to help preserve our old heritage breeds. Without the poultry hobbyist our old breeds would be consigned to history.
I would like to thank Wilbert Forsythe for his dedication to running these poultry fairs, with the next one planned for March 2023, and to Billy and Mark and all those who went out of their way to attend this event.
Hope to see you all soon.
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