Ploughing and many other farm events
It’s the event for everyone and anyone with an interest in rural Ireland — which explains why you need 20 hours just to visit the 1,200 trade stands.
And that allows you just one minute at each stand, before you think about seeing the 340 Ploughing competitors, the 28 food and drink caterers, or attractions such as the pole climbing competitions, lamb shearing, craft demonstrations, junior and senior hunt chase, vintage machinery exhibition and threshing demonstrations, fashion shows, sheep dog trials, loy digging, meggers, celebrity cookery demonstrations, outdoor radio broadcasts and much, much more.
Yes, it’s next week’s National Ploughing Championships of 2012 at Heathpark, New Ross, Co Wexford.
There’s a lot on offer for the entry fee of €20 for adults, €15 for students and OAPs, and no charge for under-12s accompanied by an adult.
The pre-booked student groups get a 30% discount, and pre-booked adult groups get a 10% discount.
It’s a mixture which should attract more than 180,000 visitors next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. If the southeast doesn’t live up its sunny reputation 20 km of steel roadways will help visitors get around.
Anna Marie McHugh, assistant MD of the National Ploughing Association, said 190,000 people attended last year’s championships in Athy, Co Kildare, making it the largest show of its kind in Europe.
* What proportion of those who attend spend at least one overnight, in order to see more of the event?
>>Going on previous experience, all hotels, B&Bs, etc, showed a dramatic increase in business during the championships.
Statistics show that 15% of visitors stay overnight within the locality of the Championships.
All registered accommodation providers for a radius of 10 to 15 miles would be fully booked, with unregistered house owners also meeting demand by providing accommodation.
* It’s the largest show of its kind in Europe. Do you get organisers of overseas events looking for advice?
>>We would regularly receive calls and visits from both organisations and individuals, national and international, involved with event management.
Given the size of the event, we also get a huge interest from colleges running courses in event management. In this regard, I often give guest lectures throughout the year.
* Has there been any reduction in the huge voluntary effort which goes into organising and running the event?
>>Each year, we have a huge level of volunteer support. It simply would not be logistically possible to hold an event of such a magnitude without the help and assistance of all involved.
This year, we have over 400 volunteers assisting with stewarding, judging and supervising the various aspects of the event.
* Over 700 acres of land are needed. Have you enough offers of sites for the coming years?
>>Throughout the year we visit many sites across the country to assess their infrastructural viability for holding future events.
There are many requirements that need to be met in order for a site to be suitable. For example, the road network and site access, electrical infrastructure, the soil make-up in terms of suitability for ploughing, and the general geographical lie of the land, size of fields, levels of land.
* Has the bad summer weather created difficulties for preparing the ploughing plots and the rest of the site?
>>Yes and no, the delayed harvest has meant that the marking of plots is seriously delayed, and being carried out one field at a time, but at this stage this work is well ahead. The NPA had this year agreed with the steel roadway providers, TPA, to have all the trade stand field track laid by Sept 4, and that has proved very beneficial, considering the very bad weather we have experienced.
Other than that, everything is looking good.
We recently had the press launch of the Championships on site, and the land is in perfect condition.
The location of the site this year at Heathpark is free-draining, and provides ideal conditions for this type of event. At present, the site is in perfect condition, as it undergoes major construction with all the services being connected and exhibitor tents being erected.
All indications are that ground conditions will remain dry and perfect for next week.
* More than three quarters of the attendance travel from at least 40km away. Will the location in the southeast, away from the midlands, reduce the attendance?
>>There is a comprehensive Garda traffic plan in place, which if followed, will hopefully ensure a steady flow of traffic to the Ploughing.
The venue is very accessible from north, south, east and west, and we would have no indication that the venue has affected bookings to date.
In fact, pre-ticket sales would appear to be up on last year. We would advise that those heading to the event consult our website at www.npa.ie and download the traffic plan for the best approach road to take.