THE ROYAL Welsh Agricultural Society made a profit of £212,953 in 2003, of which its expanded Winter Fair contributed almost £88,000.

Emrys Evans, chairman of the board of management, told the annual meeting that more than 400 events took place during the year at the society‘s Builth Wells showground in south Powys.

Membership stood at a near record 12,133, and the RWAS‘s net assets totalled £8,009,730 compared with £1,414,177 a decade ago.

Dr Evans described the current financial position as remarkable in the light of the big loss made when foot-and-mouth disease forced the cancellation of the 2001 show.

A near record attendance of 215,538 at last July‘s show helped boost total income to almost £3.4m, or around £1.6m more than in 1993.

He promised that profits would be pumped back into showground developments

These include the building of a new centre with facilities for conferences, education, arts and youth activities to celebrate the show‘s centenary in 2004.

“The funding will, of course, be a major challenge,” he said.

“We cannot proceed alone, but we will hopefully qualify for substantial support under Objective 2 European funding for Wales.”

Funding should be in place by 2005 – 2006 but, even with the construction of the centre, the full potential of the showground would not have been fully exploited, he added.

A detailed feasibility study of how the site could be used would start soon and the results, together with intensive market research, would be the basis of a new strategic plan.