With dust has hardly settled on the Electric Picnic, Laois is already gearing up for another huge influx of visitors for the National Ploughing Championship which takes place just up the road from the Picnic site this year
There was smiles and building excitement today as Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Simon Coveney launched the 2013 Championships due to take place in Ratheniska, Stradbally three weeks from now on the 24th – 26th September.
Minister Coveney said he was looking forward to spending three days at this year’s festival as he believes it will be the most successful Championships today and he believes the location at the crossroads of Ireland is perfect for those set to travel
The Minster congratulated the World Ploughing Champions and stated the event, built on turning a sod brings competitors from all over the country to the one spot to ‘turn the sod’.
The Minister took time to travel the entire site and hop on a tractor with local landowner David Carter who will soon play host to Europe’s largest agricultural event.
Providing a platform to showcase Irish Food, Farming and Culture this event incorporates all sectors of agriculture and rural living from the latest development in Agri. If that’s not enough then take some time out to enjoy the packed programme of Ploughing competitions, live entertainment all day at the Bandstand, Sheep Dog Trials, Loy Digging, Hunt Chase, Sheep Shearing Competitions, Husqvarna Hurdle, Portwest Welly Throwing, Meggars, Outdoor Radio Broadcasts, Celebrity Visitors including sports stars and TV personalities, most Appropriately Dressed Competitions, Craft Demonstrations, Celebrity Chefs and much more.
The site located on the farm of the Carter family which is being transformed to facilitate the 100 acres needed for the trade arena & demonstrations and 150 acres earmarked for ploughing. In addition to this over 400 acres of the surrounding lands will be used to facilitate the free car parking sites by local land owners in the surrounding area.
At the launch, the Minister and special guests were treated to entertainment by local performers from Laois and guests were also treated to a display of vintage, reversible and conventional ploughs.
Following the official launch, models from the Holman Lee modelling agency took to a mini catwalk to provide a glimpse of the highly anticipated fashion shows that will take place throughout the three days of the event. Local and national boutiques/fashion houses provided a taster of the latest styles and the fashion of the forthcoming season.
With site preparations well underway, the 22 km of steel roadways is now nearly complete and the site is ready for exhibitors to build their stands over the coming weeks– stand structures will vary from exclusive display trailers to marquees, sheds, timber houses and some very elaborate visual presentations.
Attendance numbers this year are expected to be in excess of last year’s 187,000. Already 1,300 exhibitors have booked stand at this year’s event and there is currently a waiting list in operation which marks a substantial increase in stands since last year.
Upwards of 330 ploughing competitors will compete over the 3 day event to win National Titles, qualify for next year’s World and European Ploughing Contests and write themselves into the ploughing history books and avail of over €18,000 in competition prizes.
Speaking at the launch, Managing Director of the National Ploughing Association, Ms Anna May McHugh said
“Given Laois strong links with the National Ploughing Championships and excellent ploughing conditions, it was very befitting that the championships returns to the county this year. The 2013 Championships will mark the 5th staging of the event within the county, with the last venue at in Ballincolla in 2005. It is also marks 82 years since Wexford man Denis Allen first held the competition.