Ballymoney Annual Flower Show flourishes into its 90th year

The audience at the 1979 Show.
The audience at the 1979 Show.

Ballymoney and District Gardening Club formally known as North Antrim Horticultural Association will be holding their 90th annual Garden Show on Saturday, August 18.

It all began back in 1920 when a group of enthusiastic members organised the first ever Ballymoney Flower Show. The Ballymoney Free Press reported that the show was a ‘distinct success’ and predicted that ‘Future exhibitions will be popular among growers and the public generally’. The prediction came true and the ‘Flower Show’ as it has become commonly known has gone from strength to strength.

Helen Bacon and Helen Mark (Chief Guest) at the 1994 show.

Helen Bacon and Helen Mark (Chief Guest) at the 1994 show.

Within six years, the Show had expanded to include classes for home baking and agriculture. Due to difficulties of the War Years, the Shows ceased and did not return until 1947. The following year, the show was cancelled due to drought, however by 1949 it had returned to form.

During the years of post-war austerity, allotment holders and amateur gardeners and even schools were encouraged and applauded for their participation in the national effort to produce more, and better food. The Show was traditionally held on a Friday at the end of August, in 2003 it was moved to a Saturday.

In the build-up to the 80th Show on August 23 2008 Ballymoney Museum put on an exhibition throughout August. There were display panels with the history of the Show, photographs of previous shows and exhibits covering all the sections. The exhibition was opened by Alderman John Finlay Mayor of Ballymoney Borough Council. The Council also presented the Association with the Borough Trophy which is awarded in the Jam classes.

In April 2011 Elizabeth Leslie stood down as President a post she had held since 1967. John Patton was elected President at the 2012 AGM a post he holds today. In 2014 it was agreed to rename the Association, and at the AGM they became known as ‘Ballymoney and District Gardening Club’.

Local participants Derrick Turbitt and daughter Julie pictured at the 1985 event.

Local participants Derrick Turbitt and daughter Julie pictured at the 1985 event.

The numbers of entries at the show were in decline due to some of the senior exhibitors retiring. In a bid to encourage new exhibitors a major overhaul of the schedule was taken in 2016 with the addition of Novice classes and Photography Section and this has saw an increase in entries over the last couple of years.

The Flower Show remains one of the most popular annual events in the district. Due to the dedication of all involved, and support from members of the public.

The Show now comprises of 167 classes spread over 12 sections and continues to enhance Ballymoney’s reputation for top quality gardening and horticulture. Come along and support our 90th Flower Show, with celebrity Joe Mahon being held in St Patrick’s Parish Centre on Saturday, August 18.

If you would like to exhibit/need a schedule contact: Kenny Bacon 2766925. All welcome.