The circus is coming to Loughgall! To Loughgall and the multi-award winning Long Meadow cider company for a unique cabaret Cirque du Cider extravaganza as part of the dazzling Armagh Fusion Festival in March.
The colourful event will feature clowns, jugglers, acrobats, fearless fire eaters and other traditional circus performers on the successful apple farm that’s now among Northern Ireland’s most innovative and imaginative food processing enterprises and that’s also shortlisted for a major award for businesses in the region this year.
Clowns will welcome families and individuals as they arrive at the farmyard and will be part of a special programme for their entertainment and enjoyment.
Three circus shows are planned each day over the scheduled two-days in what promises to be an exciting event over two weekends.
Owned by Pat and Catherine McKeever with their son Peter and other members of the well-known Armagh family, Long Meadow, a leading local apple growing and processing business, is converting a huge storage building on the successful farm into a spectacular and cosy Big Top for visitors to enjoy the dazzling entertainment provided in the unique Cirque du Cider showcase, the first to be held in the local cider and juicing processing sector.
The imaginative and original event, which is being organised by MayWe, a Belfast-based specialist in arts and cultural management initiatives, is essentially a reworking of the memorable Cirque du Soleil sound and light shows long popular in many holiday destinations in Britain and especially abroad in nations such as Egypt, where Cairo regularly hosts such dramatic events at the pyramids at Giza, now a magnet for international tourists.
Catherine explains: “We are thrilled to be supporting the impressive Armagh Fusion festival at the end of March and earlyApril.
“It’s sure to be a hugely important event in what promises to be a very colourful and comprehensive festival programme by the Armagh City authorities to celebrate its tremendous history, heritage and culture.
“We appreciate greatly the marvellous support we’ve received from the city as well as the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council (ABC) over the years, especially for our orchard tours and our export successes.
“We are also immensely proud to be an integral part of the council’s hugely successful Food Heartland initiative that’s driving the growth of food and drink here,” adds Catherine.
Armagh Fusion, a two-week long celebration of the area’s outstanding attractions, is described by the city as designed to bring together “artistic activity and events in a wide variety of spaces across the city and neighbouring apple orchards”.
It will foster many “unique collaborations and imaginative fusions” and is among three major events in the city, including the much-loved Georgian Festival that showcases the city’s 18th century heritage.
Armagh Fusion Festival runs from March 24 to April 3, bringing together the region’s vibrant arts and cultural scene to a variety of iconic spaces, venues and especially its renowned apple orchards. It features a host of community collaborations.
Long Meadow has also become an integral part of the Food and Cider Weekend celebration of Armagh’s famous apple orchards and the fabulous local cuisine of what is now one of Ireland’s top food and drink destinations, especially for visitors from the US, Europe and Australia.
“We are also particularly keen to support the area in its bid to win UK City of Culture 2025 designation by hosting different events such as the Cirque du Soleil, which is going to be a really colourful and memorable occasion,” continues Catherine.
Participants to the cider showcase will also be able to enjoy the best artisan food, including Catherine’s own traditional Irish griddle-baked breads and delicious apple pie featuring the farm’s own premium produce along with a choice of natural apple juices and a variety of ciders which are now on sale in supermarkets, off-licences, bars and hotels here, in Great Britain and the Republic.
The leading Irish apple grower and processor, which has invested heavily in its processing operation and orchards near Portadown, has an impressive and hugely successful track record in eye-catching on-farm events that promote the industry, now among the most important and ambitious agri-food sectors.
Long Meadow, for example, staged the first- ever sound and light show – Treeluminations – for the public in its orchards for Valentine’s Night in 2019.
The fantastic event was also designed to support Armagh’s growing tourism industry and especially the raw beauty of its apple orchards.
The leading artisan business, in addition, is an enthusiastic backer of the Bank of Ireland sponsored Open Farm Weekend scheme, a hugely successful initiative designed to strengthen the bridge between farming families and the wider public.
The McKeevers have a successful record in the creation of original ciders, including the first vintage matured variety here in local whiskey casks.
The entrepreneurial couple founded the craft cider and juice business, which is also a Food NI member, in 2012 on the back of a family heritage of growing applies on its own orchards for more than 50 years. Long Meadow currently grows and harvests local Bramley and sweet apples from a total of 120 acres, 30 of which are on the home farm.
The community-focused enterprise, furthermore, works closely alongside ABC Council, Tourism NI and Tourism Ireland in measures to boost the local economy.
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