Following on from last year’s record-breaking Royal Welsh Winter Fair – visitor numbers topped the 33,000 mark – everything is set for this year’s event on Monday, November 30 and Tuesday, December 1.
Widely regarded as one of Europe’s top primestock shows, this year’s Royal Welsh Winter Fair will host more than 200 livestock classes, special awards and championships with exhibitors travelling from far and wide to compete for a share of more than £25,000 in prize money.
The financial rewards for the major championships have also been increased by nearly 230 per cent, with £1,250 going to the exhibitor of the overall champion beast.
The winter fair will be officially opened on the Monday morning by auctioneer Gwyn Williams, of R.G. and R.B. Williams, based at Ross-on-Wye. The ceremony will be upstairs in the International Pavilion at 10.30am.
New for this year are additional classes in both the steer and heifer sections for the best animal purchased at auction for under £1,400, as well as a new butcher’s choice competition.
In the sheep section, the hill flock class in the pure Welsh Mountains has been re-introduced.
Judging of the supreme championships takes place on the second day of the event, followed by the sale of livestock.
Though recognised for the quality of the stock it attracts, the fair’s role in promoting Welsh agricultural produce has also become increasingly important. The showground’s dedicated food hall being a must-see venue for visitors.
Other special attractions, include: flower arrangements, antiques, fashion, jewellery, cosmetics, crafts, and clothing have also become an important part of the programme.
Will Hanks, the fair’s honorary director, says: “Last year’s event was a resounding success, with outstanding livestock, a trade stand sell out and a record crowd.
“This year we aim to offer the same fantastic visitor experience and are repeating the hugely successful late night shopping attraction on the Monday evening, with free entry after 4pm.
“Last year the evening ended with a gigantic fireworks display and weather permitting another has been planned – with the howground’s main ring giving way to an hour-long ‘nightglow’ display of hot air balloons.”
Three Welshmen will be judging the winter fair’s supreme cattle and sheep championships.
Choosing the best heifer will be Denley Jenkins, Brongest, Ceredigion, while Glyn Davies, Prion, Denbighshire, will place the steers – with both going head-to-head to decide the overall champion.
The supreme sheep judge will be Aberystwyth butcher and farmer Rob Rattray, while Brian Davies, Garthbrengy, Brecon, will place the crossbreds and pure lowland breed sections, Alun Richards, Pumpsaint, Ceredigion, will decide the butchers weight and pure continental breeds, John Thomas, Treharris, Mid Glamorgan, will be judging the pure Welsh Mountain breeds and Alwyn Davies, New Cross, Ceredigion, the pure native hill and upland breeds.
Judging the single carcases will be Huw Beavan, Abergavenny, while placing the carcase pairs will be Paul Marcheselli, Talgarth, Powys.
The baby beef judge is Andrew Anderson, Elgin, while fellow Scot Andrew Hyslop, Castle Douglas, will be placing the young handlers.
Judging in the pig ring will be down to Doug Griffiths, Leintwardine, Herefordshire.
In total there are 1,512, livestock entries for the fair, with the number of cattle standing at 289 compared with 249 last year.
The number of lamb pairs at 404 is, however, slightly down on last year’s 421 level, the entry of lamb carcases is 161 compared with 174 in 2014 and pig entries total 53 against 56.
Horse numbers continue to rise, with a 605 total entry topped by 158 Welsh Mountain ponies.