IN spite of the rain, a huge crowd turned out for the Festival Francais de Portarlington which took place over last weekend. Up to 10,000 people passed through Port during the festivities, immersing the town in colour, music and entertainment.
Festival Francais kicked off on Friday evening with a parade through Port, helmed by newly crowned Festival Queen, Carol Lambe. A host of activities were organised for the weekend, including sports tournaments, theatre, art, music and street markets. The street markets were a highlight drawing large crowds on both the Saturday and the Sunday, with both local and national businesses exhibiting their produce.
Another highlight of the weekend was the World Snail Eating Championship which took place in the town’s main square on Sunday afternoon. As well as a number of local competitors, there were also entries from as far away as Mexico and Thailand. Sharon Dunne was announced the winner of the festival after she ate 30 snails in one minute and nine seconds.
The 5K fun run also attracted a lot of attention with over 100 people participating. The bonnie baby competiton proved a big hit with festival goers, with nearly 50 entries.
“Festival PRO Arlene Foy was delighted with how proceedings went. “It was a great weekend, the weather didn’t stop us at all and people were out with their umbrellas,” she said. “The music throughout was very well received, it suited everybody, it was great. Republic of Loose were amazing on Saturday and there was a great turnout.”
Arlene added that the crowds supported all the bands playing throughout the festival, including local band Epic who played on Friday, and Whisht who finished out the festival on Sunday night.
Over all Festival Francais was a huge success for Port, with people coming together to ensure things ran smoothly. “It was a real
community effort, we had over 30 volunteers for the weekend,” stated Arlene. “We would like to thank all the sponsors, volunteers and locals who were involved in the festival, and Portarlington Tidy Towns who also helped out a lot.”
As well as the street entertainment, a number of workshops were held including arts, crafts, dancing and theatre, which were all very well attended. “The workshops went down a treat, and a lot of businesses did very well over the weekend,” enthused Arlene. Already looking forward to next year, Arlene added “if we get the weather next year, we hope to get an even bigger crowd.”