Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Simon Coveney launched the National Ploughing Championship at the venue in Heathpark, New Ross, just over the border with County Kilkenny earlier today (Thursday). The country’s largest outdoor event will be held from September 25 to 27 on the farms of the O’Dwyer and Keogh families. The site is currently under infrastructural construction to facilitate the 100 acres needed for the trade arena and demonstrations and 180 acres earmarked for ploughing. In addition to this, 400 acres of the surrounding lands will be used to facilitate the free car parking sites. .
Minister Coveney took time to walk the site, hop on a tractor and plough and mingle with the local landowners who will play host to one Europe’s largest agricultural events in just under three weeks time. Showcasing Irish Food, Farming and Culture this event incorporates all sectors of agriculture and rural living from the latest development in Agri. Machinery to a comprehensive showcase of Livestock Breeds, Animal Husbandry and Management, Motors, Forestry, Bio Energy, Business Management and Regulatory Bodies. A Tented Trade Village expands the exhibitor profile to cater for every element of rural life including education, business, craft village, food fair, health, lifestyles, home and garden, sports and leisure, tourism, and fashion.
If it’s relevant to farming its relevant to the Ploughing – topical seminars, information forums, product launches, specialists on hand, machinery demonstrations. And if that’s not enough take some time out to enjoy the packed programme of special events at the Ploughing which include live entertainment all day, sheep dog trials, loy digging, hunt chase, sheep shearing competitions, the axe factor and husqvarna pole climbing, celebrity chef cookery demonstrations, meggars, outdoor radio broadcasts, celebrity visitors including sports stars and tv personalities, most appropriately dressed competitions, craft demonstrations and much more.
At today’s launch, the Minister and special guests were treated to entertainment by local singer Stephen Murphy along with a performance in dancing and storytelling from the Carrigbyrne Pike Mummers. 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 20 km of steel roadways is now complete and the site is ready for exhibitors to build their stands – 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 180,000. Already, over 1,200 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 340 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.
Speaking at the launch, Managing Director of the National Ploughing Association, Ms Anna May McHugh said: “Given Wexford 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 2012 Championships will mark the 9th staging of the event within the county, with the last venue in the Sunny Southeast being Ferns in 1998. It is also marks 80 years since local man Denis Allen first brought the competition to the county, that being in February 1932 when the competition was held in his hometown of Gorey”.