5 December 2001
Record attendance at Welsh fair
By Robert Davies
RECORD numbers of visitors have flocked to the Welsh Winter Fair despite the show taking place without cattle, sheep or pigs.
Attendance figures totalled 11,344, smashing the previous best total of 9507 in 1995, and leading to calls for the fair to become a two-day event.
Trade stand income and sponsorship almost covered costs before gates opened on Tuesday (4 December) at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, Powys.
The Royal Welsh Agricultural Society had faced the tricky dilemma of staging the event without cloven-hoofed animals, due to foot-and-mouth.
But organisers were delighted with the turnout, which goes some way towards offsetting losses on the cancelled summer show.
The one downside was that the large crowd and an accident brought road chaos later in the day.
Chairman of the board of management, Emrys Evans, said serious consideration must now be given to making the Fair a two-day event.
And with space limited, he faces a big headache deciding how to accommodate special events like the horse and hunting hound competitions.
These were very successfully introduced to replace livestock classes.
Opening the fair, the Prince of Wales urged farmers to put the nightmare of foot-and-mouth behind them and work together for the recovery of agriculture.
He praised the “countless unsung heroes and heroines” who had helped others during the dark days of the crisis.
Annette Spratt was presented with the NFU/NatWest Bank Welsh Woman Farmer of the year award.
A plumbers daughter with no farming experience, she runs a Carmarthenshire dairy farm, allowing her husband to work off the farm.