Monsters and snails were a favourite at last weekend’s jam packed Festival Francais de Portarlington.
Frenchman Sam Haubry, the local postman in Portarlington, scooped first prize for downing thirty snails in 1 minute 20 seconds. The Escargot Mangent Championship attracted huge crowds to the Square, with 15 contestants battling it out.
The festival celebrates Portarlington’s French Hugenot history, and was revived last year to great success. This year was even better, and the rain even held off. A packed itinerary included a Family Fun Day, traditional market village, pet show, and workshops for Irish dancing, karaoke, drumming, and arts and craft. Sporting competitions included races, darts, pool and the Mini Tour de Port and a High Nelly race.
The official opening on Friday evening by Cathaoirleach of Laois County Council Paul Mitchell was followed by a street party, with French cheese and wine, street entertainment and the Festival Balloon Launch.
The Vijaya Artastic Street Theatre unleashed their awesome Monster Circus beasts onto the streets on Saturday, but they were soon found to be tame and friendly, joining in the fun. The Burbage Irish Dance Academy performed for all, while Claire Hearty kept all the children entertained with arts and crafts. The Museum was open to visit, with local historian David Orford on hand.
On Sunday the 5k Run/Walk took off at 10.30pm from the Parochial Hall. The restored river walk was the site for a Tug of War, Duck Race and kayaking. The Bonny Baby Competition at the Parochial Hall was a tough call to judge, and after the popular snail eating competition, live music rocked the streets till late.
Afterwards chairman Kieran O’Dea thanked everyone for their support, including volunteers, sponsors, businesses and local government groups
“I compliment our Festival Queen Darianne Colbert for handling her role so professionally and wished her the best over the coming year,” he said.
Full list of winners next week.