A townie’s guide to the biggest event of the year in the ‘country’ diary

Site management on site at Ratheniska, Co. Laois for the launch of the 2014 National Ploughing Championships which will be held on the 23-25 September next.Picture: Alf Harvey/HRPhoto.ie REPRO FREE
There are many Laois people that wouldn’t know one end of a plough from another, but be assured there is plenty of entertainment for all at the Ploughing Championships.

There are many Laois people that wouldn’t know one end of a plough from another, but be assured there is plenty of entertainment for all at the Ploughing Championships.

First to occupy any visitor is trying not to get lost in the maze of 25km of trackway and 1400 trade stands, packed with thousands of punters.

Study a map and arranging a meeting point - the NPA tent under their white blimp is ideal - while the Electric Picnic trick of writing your phone number on your children’s arms is no harm either.

If it is raining, wellies and a raincoat are an essential, otherwise go for comfortable shoes and allow a full day to have a chance to see everything.

Keeping the kids happy is always easier when they are eating, so be sure to find the Aldi and Lidl tents, but be prepared to queue for the free food regularly dispensed after cookery demos there.

The food fair and the ICA tent will feature cookery demonstrations by celebrity chefs with more tasty handouts.

With live broadcasts from the RTE tent, playing ‘spot the celebrity’ is a game in itself, starting with President Michael D Higgins who for the second year will launch the championships in Laois on Tuesday September 23.

Gathering freebies will keep everyone happy, so keep eagle eyes out for the myriad of items on offer. You might later wonder why you brought home half a dozen cloth bags or high vis jackets but the fun is in who can get the most on the day.

To that end, fill out as many competition entries as you can, somebody has to win.

The daily semi-finals and finals of the brown bread making competition will be a big attraction in the Aldi tent this year, but again be prepared for crowds, with the top prize of €2,000 in Aldi vouchers making this a must see for lots of eager bakers.

Not just limited to farmers, anyone would be awed by the latest hi tec tractors that will be on display, while this year the car section has been expanded to include every major make and model.

Fashion shows thrice daily with MC Celia Holman Lee will be a chance to sit down and relax, while checking out what is in style for Autumn, but check when they are on and get there early for a seat. There are holiday vouchers on offer for two lucky audience members at each show, and amazing prizes for most appropriately dressed man and woman.

Streets of pop up shops will be selling everything from see-through wellies to toys, so ensure kids have a limited amount of pocket money and let them loose for an hour.

With live music and dancing, a carnival, pole climbing competitions, sheep shearing, sheepdog trials, hunt chases and health checks, there is an endless supply of entertainment over the three days.

If by chance you walk too far and come across a ploughing competition, just mutter something along the lines of ‘that Benny Greene has a great eye’ and you will fit right in.

Admission €20 for adults, €15 for students and seniors, Children under 12 free if with an adult. See www.npa.ie