Ballynahinch Game and Harvest Festival
Pigs, Potatoes And Pageantry At Ballynahinch
The market town of Ballynahinch, once celebrated the length and breadth of Ireland for its Pig and Potato Fairs, will be celebrating its rural roots and history later this month with an epic Autumn festival.
Ballynahinch Game and Harvest Festival will be a two day fiesta of all things country, honouring the traditions of the past with a massive country-themed weekend packed with entertainment to get all the family partying, country-style.
The festival, which is expected to attract audiences of more than 15,000 will be centred on the elegant Montalto Estate, will run over Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September with an additional pageant programme hosted by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council in Ballynahinch town centre from 12 Noon to 5pm on Saturday afternoon.
From fine Northern Irish food and drink to country sports, pursuits and lifestyles; from music and culture to lively re-enactments of a skirmish in the historic Battle of Ballynahinch and even a contemporary twist on country fashion, the festival has something for everyone with a stake in rural life.
Ballynahinch Game and Harvest Festival organiser Albert Titterington, Director of The Great Game Fairs of Ireland, says, “Traditional game fair, country sports and pursuits, living history and elegant country living will combine to create a unique event, complimented by the sensational setting of the exclusive Montalto Estate. The estate which is one of Ireland’s most prestigious venues for high end weddings and private parties is only rarely opened to the general public so this is a great opportunity to stroll through those elegant gates and enjoy the manicured landscapes, in all their early Autumnal glory and with the sights, sounds and smells of an astounding Harvest festival. This year, weather permitting, there will be tours of Montalto House for a small additional fee to cover the estate’s costs in mounting the tours.”
Albert Titterington continued, “We have created a uniquely eclectic country-comes-to-town mix with a dazzling array of things to do, experiences to enjoy and spectacle to view. There is something for all the senses here, for we are also marking Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink 2016 with creating a sumptuous showcase of local produce, with tempting opportunities to taste and buy. Whether you live your life in a tweed jacket and welly boots or you’re usually a confirmed townie, you’ll find a perfect taste of the countryside at the 2016 Ballynahinch Game and Harvest Festival.”
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Chairperson and confirmed countrywoman, Councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick is looking forward to seeing Ballynahinch thronged with visitors. She says, “The Council is delighted to give its backing to this innovative concept and to host a town centre event to compliment the excitement at the glorious Montalto Estate. Together, the companion events give even more reasons for people to visit this vibrant town and enjoy its recently reinvigorated, historic Market Square as well as the fabulous Montalto Estate whose imposing entrance gates are right in the heart of Ballynahinch.”
Councillor Fitzpatrick continued, “I am proud to have my roots firmly in the soil of County Down and I am looking forward to enjoying this ambitiously scaled Game and Harvest Festival in the company of family and friends alongside thousands of visitors. It is wonderful to have such a positive showcase for the rural heritage, customs, sports and pursuits which are thankfully alive and well in our region. That heritage is a powerful visitor attraction and I am confident that the Ballynahinch Game and Harvest Festival will deliver considerable economic benefits as well as creating a fantastic conclusion to a Summer which has reinforced our growing reputation as Northern Ireland’s prime region for special events.”
Reinforcing the opportunity to bring economic benefits to local traders and the hospitality sector, the event organisers have offered a 20% stand booking discount to businesses in the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council area and have also staged a Harvest Window competition in the town.
The 2016 Ballynahinch Game and Harvest Festival will be Game Fair Number Sixty for Albert Titterington who is determined to make this one to remember. Recognised as one of Europe’s most experienced and leading Game Fair organisers, Albert is also very much a local man and he’s looking forward to celebrating his sixtieth major fair in his home County. He says, “The Ballynahinch Game and Harvest Fair is close to my heart as well as close to home and I am determined that the 2016 event will be a distinctive reflection of genuine heritage and the finer elements of country living. Already the concept has grown and developed since our venture in 2014 and I am confident that we have now planted the seeds for an initiative which will eventually become one of the stalwarts of the country calendar, hopefully soon graduating from once in every two years to become an annual celebration.”
For 2016 key attractions at Montalto over Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September will include an entertainment programme featuring gundogs, hounds, horse drawn vehicles, threshing displays, traction engines, fly casting and falconry, living history re-enactments, a medieval jousting and demonstrations by Country File sheepdog handler, Shannon Corr. The weekend will feature a full Game Fair sporting programme with international clay pigeon shooting, gundog tests, angling, terrier and lurcher championships plus a range of demonstrations and displays.
For those with a penchant for rural retailing, the Fair will feature a major country-focused retail village featuring a hundred trade partners and presenting all that’s finest in country living. There will also be an elegant Country Fashion Show, demonstrating how to work that rural chic look.
Culinary experience and artisan produce will be to the fore celebrating NI Year of Food & Drink 2016 including Chef to the Great Game Fairs of Ireland, Emmett Mc Court, in the Flogas Theatre, supported by leading local chefs. Show visitors can also enjoy a taste of the past with the spectacle of a medieval buffet complete with costumed servers, attending the Lords and ladies as they dine!
Living history re-enactments, supported by The Ulster Scots Agency, will encourage visitors to explore the past still further with costumed re-enactments of scenes from the 1798 Battle of Ballynahinch taking place at Montalto and, on Saturday afternoon, in Ballynahinch town centre where a full programme of family fun will add to the bustling atmosphere. The town’s celebrated heroine, Betsy Gray, will be making an appearance at both locations: fully armed!
For details of how to exhibit at the event call 028 44838167/44615416 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ballynahinch Harvest and Country Living Festival will take place from 10am to 5pm on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 September at Montalto Estate. Admission is Adults £10 ; Family Ticket (2 Adults & up to 4 children).£25 Children ( 5-15) £5 including FREE Carousel rides. For further details of the event see www.ballynahinchharvestfestival.com
The Ballynahinch Harvest and Country Living Festival enjoys the support of Tourism NI, Year of Food and Drink 2016, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and The Ulster Scots Agency.