It’s a Royal Show story of big, bigger and biggest

2014-05-28 00:00

MUTTON Merino sheep are causing a sensation at this year’s Royal Show.

Bred for both their wool and meat, Mutton Merinos are enormous ovines, and the biggest of the lot is Gallie, a 172 kg ram owned by Flip Botha of Bosch Valley Farms in Memel in the Free State.

He is one of almost 100 animals being shown in competition at the this year’s show, and their owners all hope one of their Mutton Merinos will be named best on show. The last time the breed won the Gold Cup at the Royal was in 1988.

Bigger is also clearly better for many of the equipment manufacturers exhibiting their machinery at the Royal Showgrounds in Pietermaritzburg.

At the Northmec stand, The Witness discovered the Case Magnum 235 tractor with rear wheels roughly two metres high and two metres wide — plenty big enough for five-year-old Keenan Ferreira from Greytown to stand up in.

Other companies with massive machines on display include: Barloworld Equipment, which is showcasing the latest generation Caterpillar models; materials handling equipment specialist Barloworld Handling, which has a Hyster reach stacker capable of lifting up to 52 tons; and Bell Equipment, which is showcasing Matriarch Equipment’s newly launched cane slew loader.

In sharp contrast to the biggest machines and animals at the Royal are the small handcrafted items on display in the crafts hall.

These range from tapestries to knitted garments, quilts, chairs, tables and even a sailing ship.

Among the many beautifully crafted items is a violin made by Andrew Tucker, from Ladysmith.

And showing that creative talent runs in the family, his daughter, Clare, was named junior crafts champion for her knitting, crochet and other handmade items.

• If you’re heading down to the Royal today, you can catch equestrian classes in the main arena, before the South African Military Health Services band performs at 5 pm.

On the River stage there is a road safety demonstration, a performance by Nixie the clown, a snake and reptile show and some summer music.

The sheep section competition concludes today with the Border Leicester national championships and the announcement of the supreme champions, while he cattle arenas will be busy with competitions in the Brahman, Hereford, Limousin, Simbra and Sussex classes.

The day ends with the prestigious carcass auction at the Wool and Sheep Expo at 4 pm.

• Entry to the showgrounds is R35 today. Parking costs R20 on the Voortrekker field.

• arts@witness.co.za

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