Saintfield was the first agricultural show I attended as a child. For me it was a magical experience with so much to see and do and a picnic in a field while we basked in the sunshine.
This was my first experience of seeing poultry exhibited. I had been kindly brought to the show by a very keen poultry keeper, my church minister the Rev Charles Kelly who, besides keeping poultry and waterfowl, also kept goats, donkeys and fantail pigeons.
I was introduced to a number of poultry keepers, including Trevor McCullough from Ballywalter, James Fails from Greyabbey, and Houston Brown from Donaghadee, and that was the start of a passion for poultry shows that has lasted decades.
I attended Saintfield Show as an exhibitor over a number of years, greatly enjoying each show at a number of different locations, including Oughley Road, Saintfield, Balmoral Park, Maze. I am looking forward to visiting the new location at Boardmills, Lisburn, hopefully next year.
In 2017 I was kindly invited to judge the poultry section with Jimmy Hughes when it was located at Balmoral Park. This was a great show of birds with a vast array of breeds of poultry and domestic waterfowl.
This County Down show in the 1970s, when I first attended it, attracted poultry exhibitors from across the county but the more recent events see exhibitors from across the country.
One such exhibitor, who sadly has passed away, was William Stevenson from Drumahoe, County Londonderry.
William had a great passion for Embden Geese, White Indian Runner ducks and Maran bantams and loved going to Saintfield Show – he even presented the poultry section with prize cups.
He often told me how much he enjoyed going to this one-day event even though it was almost two hours from his home.
Houston L Brown, now also deceased and who I mentioned earlier, was a regular at Saintfield Show and I recall him exhibiting his wonderful Rhode Island Reds and also judging the event. A number of prize cups exist in
his name across a number of shows.
For me one of the joys of attending the poultry section at Saintfield Show is the relaxed atmosphere and great organisers who go out of their way to make this a marvellous experience.
Poultry keeping and exhibiting, besides helping to preserve our heritage breeds of fowl, is a wonderful hobby and you get to meet a great group of people and develop long lasting friendships.
Saintfield Show, which has existed for more than 70 years now, is a great day out for all the family and I truly can’t wait till the day it opens up again.