The Royal Agricultural Society Of Natal
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2014 ROYAL SHOW – FINAL REPORT

With superb weather throughout, the 2014 Royal Show ended on Sunday evening, 1 June, with the traditional Ukhozi FM concert.  Although paid attendance at the event was well down on that of last year – a trend which is concerning – the exhibition component of the show, which effectively concluded on the Saturday, saw an increase in visitor numbers of 9 750.

In summary, total 2014 Royal Show attendance stood at 145 256, against 142 294 last year.

Equally pleasing was the fact that the show was substantially incident-free, with no vehicles being reported stolen (in any area controlled by the Society), minimal petty theft and no-one being injured.  Indeed, following the tragedy in 2013, the enhanced safety and security measures recently implemented could possibly – without tempting fate - be deemed to be somewhat over-engineered.

Perpetuating its acknowledged status of being the most prominent mixed agricultural show in the country, in excess of 1500 livestock (including 504 cattle, 530 sheep, 323 rabbits and 77 goats) were exhibited and the occasion also saw the hosting of the Border Leicester, Hampshire Down and Suffolk National Championships.

In line with Royal Shows throughout the Commonwealth, the recently constructed Hall 10 - a multi-purpose facility - was used for the first time to house cattle and by all accounts expectations were met.

In terms of introducing ‘Town to Country’, the Royal Show is well known for its various expos and 2014 again saw the eclectic wool and fibre display focussing on a range of activities from indigenous livestock through to the ever popular sheep shearing demonstrations, a display for sale of finished products and fashion parades.

Similarly, the cattle expo, the milking parlour and the apiarian sections continue to provide an interesting and informative experience, especially for younger visitors.

The competitive cattle classes – one of the largest events of its kind in the country – saw entries being received from breeders located upwards of 1000 kms. from Pietermaritzburg.  

The occasion saw the participation of the Angus, Brahman, Hereford, Limousin, Simmentaler, Simbra, PinZ2yl, Pinzgauer and Sussex breeds, as well as Holsteins and Jerseys in the dairy section.  

The supreme champion dairy animal, a Holstein owned by Niel van Rensburg, received special accolades from the judge, as did the supreme champion beef bull and beef cow; a PinZ2yl, owned by Bertie van Zyl and a  Simbra entered by C A Froneman respectively.  Mr Van Zyl’s  PinZ2yl was also adjudged to be the beef super cow on the day.

South Africa’s premier red meat event, the 2014 Royal Show carcass competition, took place in the Sheep Expo hall on Wednesday evening, 28 May.

The auction saw in excess of 200 buyers, breeders and other interested parties attending.

This was the first occasion that pigs have been introduced to the competition and, as a result, the Royal has become South Africa’s only show that caters for three species, being beef, lamb and pork.

High bids were received and although initial indications point to no records being broken, all stakeholders expressed their satisfaction with the prices achieved.  

The champion lamb carcass – a white Dorper – bred by G J Lotter was sold to Willowton Meats, Pietermaritzburg, at a price of R340 per kg.

Similarly, the champion European genetic carcass – an Ile de France – bred by Regina Harmse also achieved a winning bid of R340 per kg. from Willowton Meats.

The champion beef carcass achieved a score of 97,88% and the Bovelder – bred by Owen Sithole Agricultural College – was sold to the Meat Centre, Pietermaritzburg, for a price of R75 per kg.

The champion pig carcass – with a score of 94,77%  - was purchased by Ambleside Butchery at a price of R78 per kg.

Indicative of the perceived prestige of the Royal Show carcass competition, the premium on the ruling national prices for the week was significant.  In this regard, for comparative purposes these were R32 per kg. in the case of beef, R46 per kg. in the case of lamb and R19 in the case of pork.

Bird entries remain impressive, with the only constraint being space which necessitates each specie being granted limited exhibition time.  

The commercial and service sector component saw the participation of 437 exhibitors and as is customary, all were electronically canvassed to adjudge their participation in terms of expectations having been met.  A 41% response was received and the results are as follows:

Score (out of 10)

Percentage

10

32

9

17

8

23

7

14

6

5

5

5

4

2

3

0

2

0

1

2

0

0

 
Aside from the ever popular Crafts and Home Industries Hall, 2014 saw the inclusion of exhibits in venues dedicated to given activities, including:

  • Hall 7, being a new display focussed on furnishing and interior decorating.
  • Hall 1, exhibiting the services and wares of KZN rural entrepreneurs; this under the joint mentorship of the KZN Treasury and the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business.  
  • Hall 4 concentrating on safety and security, with superb displays  on the part of the SAPS, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Department of Justice, Correctional Services and others, and
  • The ever popular Mercury Hall of Fine Living, where the primary focus is on food and sustenance spanning the spectrum from farm field to dining table.  Drawing an annual audience approximating 105 000, this is probably South Africa’s largest dedicated exhibit of any kind.

It was also pleasing to see the return of blue chip operators including, amongst others, Checkers with their new range of cheeses.

To complement the presence of virtually every tractor and implement manufacturer, recent years have witnessed an expansion in the number of construction and materials handling displays; so much so that the Royal today provides the industry with one of its larger exhibitions, including the likes of Caterpillar, Komatsu, Volvo, Bell Equipment and JCB.

Every effort is made to ensure that all segments of South African’s ‘rainbow demographic mix’ are catered for and the 2014 entertainment programme - which was exceedingly well received – appeared to tick the box in all respects.

The show saw:

  • A number of equestrian events, culminating in an international tent pegging match between the South African and Jordanian women’s teams.
  • The South African national dog agility championships, together with the South African national Jack Russell championships.
  • Three adrenalin-filled shows involving motor bikes, quad bikes and cars performing a variety of stunts (including the demolition with pyrotechnics of a caravan by a motor vehicle).
  • The return of the Eqstra Flying Lions aerobatic team with four displays, one of which took place in the evening with specialised lighting.
  • The Royal Rock Show, featuring Watershed, Prime Circle, Gangs of Ballet, Fire Tree and Undivided Roots.  By way of an experiment, this event was moved to an afternoon slot extending into the early evening and in terms of support (especially on the part of visitors from further afield) proved to be a success.
  • The Royal Symphony concert, themed ‘on the movies’.
  • The RSG concert, which seems to increase in popularity each year, saw Steve Hofmeyr, Jak de Priester, Thys Die Bosveldklong and Carla Botha performing.
  • The Hindvani Royal Bollywood Extravaganza, and
  • The Ukhozi FM concert.

Indeed, with gate entry charges of R50 for adults and R35 for children, it is difficult to think of better value for money for an informative and fun-filled day’s outing, inclusive of top class entertainment.

There were two downsides to the show; one relating to the cleanliness of the grounds, which was not quite up to the standard of previous years, and the other already alluded to, being the negative trend in attendance at the Ukhozi FM concert.

Both will be addressed going forward.

The Royal Agricultural Society wishes to acknowledge the significant role played by its corporate sponsors, most notably ABI and the Land Bank.  We are also indebted to Standard Bank, who continues to sponsor the cattle and sheep championships, as well as Independent Newspapers and The Witness for so generously publicising the event.

All-in-all a successful show, which appeared to be well received by all stakeholders.