By Lynda Kiernan firstname.lastname@example.org @laoisnews
Entries are up this year for the Laois Rose, and it will surely be hard for judges to choose a winner at the Selection Night this weekend to represent Laois at the Rose of Tralee in Kerry this summer.
Seventeen confident, educated and socially aware young Laois women have put themselves forward for the chance to represent their county at the International Rose of Tralee in Kerry this August.
The Roses have already got to know each other well, having enjoyed fun days out in Laois like bowling and afternoon tea which have been covered by the Leinster Express as exclusive media partner to the event.
They are each generously sponsored by local businesses from all around Laois, will be interviewed live on stage by the always effervescent MC Brendan Hennessy, in the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel this Sunday night.
As always there is sure to be a fun variety of party pieces, for the always appreciative cheering audience of supporters to enjoy.
For the first time this year, each Rose contestant will be paired up with a 'Rose Bud' on the night, who are young girls chosen from the local primary schools.
There is also a host of generous audience prizes to be won on the night this year, including prizes for the best banner, and the best dressed lady and gent in the audience.
The winning Laois Rose will be chosen by three judges, and then presented with the sash by outgoing Laois Rose Kate Hyland.
It has been a hectic year for Kate, who is a teacher in Portarlington Presentation Primary School.
“I didn't think it would be so chock-a-block, but it is from day one, because it's not just the Rose of Tralee week, it's representing Laois at events all the year around. My advice for the new Laois Rose is to fully embrace it, to throw yourself into it,” said Kate.
Her highlight of her year was her volunteer trip to Belarus with a large group of other Roses and escorts.
“It was such a good group. The charity is very close to my heart now. But the week in Tralee was also just fantastic,” she said.
She is impressed with the standard of the girls, having met them already at several events.
“I will be delighted to hand over the sash to any one of them, I wish them all the best,” Kate said.
Kate's chosen charity this year is Chernobyl Children International, and there will be a raffle on the night to support it.
“I hope everyone supports the raffle on the night of the Laois Selection, which is in aid of CCI, and their work to bring children to Ireland for the summer,” said Kate.
The new Laois Rose will walk away with an array of prizes from jewellery by Tipperary Crystal, the new lead sponsor of the Rose of Tralee International Festival, hair sponsored for the year by The Parlour Portlaoise and of course the coveted Laois sash to go on to represent Laois in the Dome in Tralee.
The big night is next Sunday April 30. Doors open at 7pm and the contest starts at 7.30pm sharp.
Tickets at €20 are selling fast, available at the Heritage Hotel or by calling Laois Rose co-ordinator Lyn Moloney at 083 4631611.
Exclusive Media Partner, the Leinster Express will be covering the event, with reports and photos online and in next week's issue.