The National Ploughing Championships get underway today, with a packed three-day line up set to draw massive crowds to the Screggan site in Tullamore.
Speaking ahead of the event, Assistant MD and PRO of the National Ploughing Association, Anna Marie McHugh said that while last year there was a record 283,000 attendance at the event, organisers would be happy with an attendance of 200,000 over the three days.
There will be lots to keep the whole family entertained at the event and exciting new initiatives this year will see the return of the Machinery Demonstration Area, the inaugural Harry Fergusson Macra Tractor Driver Safety Award and the Biggest Indoor Innovation Arena built at any Irish Event.
There will be an array of new exhibitors as well as hundreds of outstanding veteran companies showcasing their products and services in dynamic ways. The very latest models in agricultural machinery, quality livestock, a Forestry Village, Food Fayre, an International Business Centre.
A Local Enterprise Village with exhibitors from all over Ireland, National Brown Baking Final, Foroige Young Cooks Final, Crafts, Pig Agility, topical seminars and lots of special events.
In the ploughing stakes over 350 competitors are preparing to showcase the art of ploughing over the three days, with many returning to challenge or defend a title.
Dubbed as the Farmers Festival #Ploughing 17 is sure to be trending as one of Europe’s Largest Outdoor Events.
Anna Marie added that they have been working diligently, in association with Enterprise Ireland, on attracting more international buyers and with over 100 coming this year the number has doubled.
There will also be a Guinness World Record attempt with a sculptor from Waterford expected to complete a sculpture of a wooden sword, which will become the largest sword in the world.
For those planning to attend the Ploughing for the first time, Anne Marie had the following advice: “Come appropriately dressed. You'll need light enough clothing because it's not winter and you'll be warm walking around, but bring a raincoat and wear suitable footwear.
“There are hundreds of picnic benches and we have all the facilities here. It is as exciting for a three year old as for an 80 year old, but if there are small children make sure to get a band at the gate to put your phone number on. Forget the GPS and follow the advice of the stewards and the gardai on the road,” she added.
“We hope it's a good event again this year and that Tullamore capitalises on it and gives a good welcome to people and hopefully they'll come again.”