THE TOWN is gearing up for an influx of visitors when the fifth annual River and Floral Festival begins tomorrow (Thursday).
The festivities begin with the second annual Returning Emigrants dinner dance. This will be held in the Lord Bagenal, Leighlinbridge, with music by Identity.
On Friday the fishing competition for the disabled will be held from 2 to 4pm, and is sponsored by Waterways Ireland. From 6 to 8pm Ray Lynam will entertain by the river, while the opening ceremony is at 7pm with the Floral Festival Queen, Marian Hynes, in attendance.
This ceremony will be followed by raft race practice, which is also sponsored by Waterways Ireland. The Dublin City Ramblers will end Friday's events with a concert by the river from 8 to 10pm.
On Saturday the local Country Markets will open at the Muine Bheag Community Centre on Church Road from 9am to 12 noon, displaying all sorts of home produce and crafts.
Later in the day there will be a South American band and trade display, followed by more raft race heats at 2pm.
A new event on this year's calendar is the Bungee Jump, in which people can drop from a heighth of 165 feet in just two seconds!
To do it, all you have to do is raise E80 through personal sponsors, corporate sponsorship, or pay an entry fee of E80 on the day. Sponsorship cards available from local shops or ring 086-3016360 to book a place.
The nightly concert will see up and coming country and western singer, Caitlin and Wexford band Solid Gold entertain by the river from 8 to 10pm.
On Sunday the festival parade will start at 2pm. Led by the Festival Queen, it will also feature steam engines, vintage cars, mini cars, motor bikes and vintage fire engines, while the Reserve Defence Force (RDF) and Killeshin Pipe Band will also participate.
At 2.30 and 5pm environmentalist and broadcaster Dick Warner will give a talk. The finals of the raft race are at 3pm, while there will be live local entertainment all day for the children with clowns and puppets.
Rock band Deuces Wild will play at 5pm, with the festival prize-giving ceremony taking over at 6pm. From 8.15 to 10.15pm there will be another concert by the river featuring Monto, a new Dublin ballad group and local bands.
Other events running throughout the festival include the fun fair from 10am to 12 midnight, free barge trips on the river and the craft fair and tented village at the quayside.
The Bagenalstown Festival will be broadcast live on radio from August 9 to 13 on frequency 104.3. Buskers are welcome.
The photo competition, which has the theme of the River Barrow, has attracted a large number of entrants
The festival committee thanked Waterways Ireland for sponsoring all river activities, Kane Electrical for the lighting on the river and everyone who helped to prepare for the festival.
Golden Jubilee – The Ballinkillen Pioneer centre will celebrate its Golden Jubilee this year, having held its inaugural meeting in April 1956.
To mark the occasion, the Association will hold a special celebration in Ballinkillen on September 15. Mass in Ballinkillen Church will be celebrated by Fr Michael MacGreil, chairman of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association (PTAA), followed by a reception in Ballinkillen/Lorum Community Centre.
Pioneers due to receive silver or gold pins should contact secretary Teresa Kearney, tel 059-9721513. Members, or former members who may be living away from the parish, are welcome to attend.
Art EXhibit – Members of the Killoughternane Art Group presented their first exhibition of paintings in Killoughternane Community Hall recently.
Exhibition artists included Annie Byrne, Jenny Kane, Teresa Cunningham, Jim Quirke, Tom Cox, Nesta Fitzgerald, Andrew Kavanagh, Philip Cullen, Mary Cummins, Sarah Gordon and Frank O'Connell.
The exhibition was launched by broadcaster, Olivia O'Leary, a native of Borris, who praised the high standard of the work on display.
She spoke of her love of the area and the outstanding community spirit present in Killoughternane. This, she added, was evident by the display of paintings and all the other activities held in the hall.
The art group started in October 2005, with classes sponsored by Carlow VEC.
Blessed Well –The recent Mass at the Blessed Well in Killoughternane drew the largest crowd since the 1500 Celebrations.
Mr Andy Quirke, one of the founding members of the group who restored St Fortchern's Well, was awarded a Bene Merenti medal by Bishop James Moriarty at a ceremony in St Andrew's Church. The medal was presented in recognition of his contribution and the commitment of the other volunteers in the area who maintain and promote the Blessed Well.
The Social Group made a presentation to Fr Pierce Murphy to mark his retirement as parish priest and his move to Graignamanagh/Borris, where he will still be actively involved in Diocesan ministry.
Ms Bernadette Cummins thanked Fr Murphy for his support and the long-standing service he has given to Killoughternane during his years in Bagenalstown parish. The Social Group provided tea and refreshments afterwards in the old school.
Dancing – Classes with a qualified dance teacher are open to beginners and advanced students every Tuesday at 4pm in the Muine Bheag Community Centre, Church Road.
Classes featured include Irish, ceili, set, figure, riverdance, Barrow-Nore-Suir dance, hurley and folk dancing.
Remembrance – A Remembrance Rally will be held at Harris's Pub Three Counties, Maganey on Saturday in remembrance of all those killed tragically on our roads.
With music by Metal Fusion, admission is E8. This year's nominated charities are Jack and Jill Foundation and Holy Angels, Carlow.
There will be a marquee, with food and camping on site. Further details from 087-9139771.
Pilgrimage –A bus will go to Our Lady's Island on Tuesday next for the official opening of the pilgrimage season. The pilgrimage will also visit the grave of the healing priest, Fr. Lambert, in Blackwater, Co. Wexford.
With early booking essential, contact Eithne Ryan, tel 9722004; B. Dunne, tel 9132392 or Ned Moran.