THE 300th edition of the annual horse fair and festival at Ballinasloe, County Galway, commences on Sunday, October 2, with patrons attending from near and far continuing a tradition that dates to 1722. Patrons come to what has been described as the ‘community of the horse’ to meet old friends and acquaintances and enjoy all the hospitality that Ballinasloe has to offer. While now primarily associated with the horse, in its day the great fair was a significant agricultural event. The week-long festival incorporates three horse sale dates on October 2, 3 and 8. Its importance to the economy of Ballinasloe and its hinterland cannot be underestimated.
Chairman of the Festival committee, Mal Croffey said: “The Ballinasloe Horse fair is the oldest in Europe, and the greatest celebration of the horse and equine culture in Ireland.”
The committee have worked tirelessly to put together a programme of events to ensure visitors to Ballinasloe have an enjoyable and memorable experience.
Mr Croffey continued: “The equestrian element of our programme is essential to the continuance of the fair, our loose lunging competitions on the opening day for three-year-old horses and ponies has been very successful since their inception 30 years ago. These competitions continue to draw international buyers to Ballinasloe, because the grade of horses/ ponies competing has increased year on year and it is no surprise to hear that some of those animals have gone on to compete at international show jumping events. Our equestrian programme continues on October 3 and 8 and they continue to draw quality horses to Ballinasloe.
“Our Festival programme is packed with activities for all the family. We have put together a programme of street entertainment and music on the festival soundstage for both weekends. Mike Denver will officially open the Fair at 2pm and this will be followed by an open air concert at 2.30pm. The horse sales will continue on Monday,” said the Festival chairman.
A heritage day on Tuesday will conclude with presentation of the Tales of the Fair podcast and video to national folklore collection to commemorate the 300th anniversary. Renowned chef, Rachel Allen will headline with her culinary skills at a cooking, fashion and fun night in the Shearwater on Thursday, October 6 – doors open at 7pm with the event starting at 8pm.
Saturday, October 8 sees the return of the mare and foal and foal fair in the green, with stalls and street entertainment in the town centre to celebrate the 300th anniversary; a special concert headlined by Abbaesque will start at 8pm on Saturday night.
On Sunday, October 9, the festival dog show, food and craft market, children’s bakery competitions, children’s tractor race and vintage display will take place in the town centre. Due to popular demand, the motorbike stunt show returns for three shows on Dunlo Street, commencing at 1.30pm. The show involves motorcycle arena trials specialists performing amazing feats of bravery.
Chairman of the festival committee, Mal Croffey concluded: “We are delighted with how the second weekend continues to go from strength to strength. Our Ballinasloe Diaspora returns home in huge numbers every year to celebrate and rekindle old friendships, resulting in country fair day now being recognised as the biggest and busiest day on the streets of our town annually.”
For more information, please visit: http:// ballinasloe octoberfair.com; email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 00 353 (0)86 1704236. Follow the festival activities on facebook: ballinasloefair, Instagram: ballinasloefair and Twitter: @ballinasloefair.
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