They prayed for birthday sunshine - and the weatherman delivered for the first two days of the Balmoral Show.
The sun glowed on the freshly polished Big Wheel looming over the Balmoral Park showgrounds as the first of the crowds trickled through the gate.
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It was a key diary date for the biggest agricultural show in Ireland, which is celebrating its 150th birthday with a special anniversary marquee featuring archive photography, a timeline, artefacts and souvenirs detailing its history.
And despite the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle coming up this weekend, the show didn't miss out on a royal visit, welcoming HRH Princess Anne to the showgrounds near Lisburn on the opening day.
Rhonda Geary, operations director with the Royal Ulster Agricultural Show, said she was pleased with the numbers so far.
"We have had a great opening day for the 150th Balmoral Show and we're delighted to welcome the Princess Royal to today's show," she said.
"The weather has been lovely, which of course is an added bonus, and we are looking forward to welcoming many more visitors over the next three days."
In the children's farm, fascinated children pressed their faces against the bars of the enclosures as they attempted to get up close and personal with tiny goat kids, lolloping rabbits, scurrying rodents and furry friends of the six-legged variety.
Meanwhile, the livestock pens were a hive of activity as farmers blow-dried pedigree cattle and herded them through to the cattle ring to await the moment of judgment.
Nearby, in the sheep ring, affronted Hampshire Downs sounded like they were hurling insults at each other as they were combed and manhandled into the spotlight to meet their public. One slightly more relaxed ewe sported a baseball cap as she waited for her big moment.
Red cowboy hats were handed to the groups of schoolchildren who were flooding through the main gates and as the wind picked up, stray hats went bowling here and there through the crowds.
After a frenetic sheep-shearing session in which would-bes battled it out to reach the junior finals of the Royal Ulster International Sheep Shearing Championship, the crowds adjourned to the nearby bar to enjoy a cooling pint in the afternoon sunshine. There was almost a rave atmosphere at the nearby Grassmen stand as pumping dance music filled the air.
At the other end of the showgrounds, a group of schoolchildren let off steam with an informal game of Gaelic football among some of the quieter trade exhibits. As usual, the crowds thronged to taste Northern Ireland's finest produce in the NI Food Pavilion, including delicacies such as Lough Neagh eel, crab paste and chocolate and chilli burgers.
There was almost a disaster as a trio of ladies decided to help themselves to the ingredients set aside for a cooking demonstration by Jean Christophe Novelli, including a bowl of pickled sea vegetables.
There was clearly a story behind the sign posted on the flanks of a model animal at one of the trade stands reading 'Do not sit on the bull'.
It was easy to tell when Princess Anne had started her walkabout of the showgrounds after leaving an event in the Members Pavilion, given the spreading pool of hush around the Rural and Business Crime Partnership stand as showgoers craned to hear what the Princess Royal was saying to staff.
Clare McVeigh of the crime and community safety branch of the Department of Justice, who chatted to Princess Anne on her visit to the stand, said she was very interested in the overall trends in rural crime.
"Pleasantly, we were able to advise her that there is a downward trend but we still have to be mindful of the thefts out there in the rural and business communities and that is why the partnership works together to tackle them," Clare said.
The Princess Royal also asked about dog thefts, something that is clearly close to her heart. "She was talking about a dog that she had given to someone that was then stolen from the front yard. She also asked if there is a problem with livestock thefts and we told her it features, but thankfully it's on a downward trend," Clare said.
Princess Anne also spent some time in the marquee of the show's principal sponsor, Ulster Bank, where she visited the Six Nations trophy - lifted in March by Ireland's Grand Slam-winning rugby players.
She also met with a range of entrepreneurs who are exhibiting courtesy of the bank, including some of its micro-business customers.