28 November 1997

Stock numbers up, stand space sold out for next week

Despite BSE and recession,

the Welsh Winter Fair has

established itself as a

credible new event

THE organisers of next Tuesdays Royal Welsh Agricultural Winter Fair are benefiting from the lack of a pre-Christmas show at Earls Court.

The Royal Smithfield Club is matching the prize money the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society is offering to supreme champions and reserves, and many breed societies are offering up to £1000 to pure bred interbreed champions. This could allow a beast to collect £2000 for taking the ultimate cattle award, and the reserve £450.

Enhanced prize money totalling over £10,000, and not being able to compete in London, have had a big impact on stock entries. Cattle numbers are 58% up at a record 213 head, including 34 extra heifers and the best-ever entry of Welsh Black steers.

A total of 344 pairs of lambs will compete on the hoof, 39 more than last year and a record for the event. Visitors will also see 124 lamb carcasses, including 16 groups of three. Live pig entries are three down at 51 head, but pig carcass classes will involve 20 entries, or three more than in 1996.

If the first display of deer and venison at the event by David Morgan of the Welsh Venison Centre generates sufficient interest, a venison carcass class could be scheduled for next year.

Trade stand space at the eighth Winter Fair is sold out, and an income of more than £41,000 will come from sponsorship and donations. Bigger entries and planning to cope with an increase in the number of people expected to attend have increased staging costs. But RWAS secretary Peter Guthrie predicts that income and surplus over expenditure will exceed the 1996 totals of £95,000 and £36,000.

Credible new event

"We have ridden out the difficulties of establishing a credible new event, the economic recession that doomed so many businesses in Britain, and the catastrophic impact of BSE," Mr Guthrie says. "The Winter Fair has been an object lesson in how, against the odds, enthusiasm, imagination and flair can turn a concept into a reality."

The success of the fair has persuaded its major sponsors, Midland Agriculture and Dalgety Agriculture, to renew their commitments. Talks are also in progress with Waitrose supermarkets, who are already directly involved with Welsh farmers supplying lamb through the companys contract with Farm Assured Welsh Livestock.

Last years supreme champion on show at the Welsh Winter Fair.