Blue Jean Country Queens from across the country, and from overseas, will be under the spotlight in Athboy, Co Meath, this bank holiday weekend, as the 30th annual festival gets under way.
cap: Reigning Blue Jean Country Queen Dearbhla O’Connor at the launch of this year’s festival. Picture: David Gilroy
Organised by Meath Macra na Feirme, the festival will welcome 30 contestants, who will all be hoping to claim the title of Blue Jean Country Queen 2017.
Among those taking to the stage will be 23-year-old trainee accountant and Nathan Carter super fan Niamh Howard. A member of Fermoy Macra, she is representing Cork’s Avondhu region.
Also lining out for the Rebel county is Carbery representative Nicole O’Donovan.
The 22-year-old veterinary nurse and credit controller is a member of Crossmahon/Bandon Macra.
Sheena Murphy will fly the Muskerry flag. The 20-year-old student is a member of Aghinagh Macra, while Rita Dineen of Whitechurch Macra, a 22-year-old hairdresser, beautician and student, is representing Seandún.
The festival is sponsored by Athboy Credit Union and will begin tomorrow.
Across the weekend, there will be a host of family-friendly events and live music, including a performance by Trevor Smith and Friends in Low Places — The Ultimate Garth Brooks Experience.
The contestants will head to the Causey Farm Experience for a team-building exercise as part of the festival, which will be officially opened by Tina Growney, Athboy community Person of the Year, in the Darnley Lodge Hotel tomorrow.
Joe Healy will interview the 2017 contestants on stage in front of a packed house before a winner is crowned.
On Saturday, the annual street carnival and craft fair will take over the main street of Athboy from 1pm until 5pm. There will be a Great Blue Jean Bake Off’, a children’s drama workshop, sideshows from the nine Meath Macra na Feirme clubs and local community groups, as well as musical performances.
A 30th anniversary celebration, featuring music by DJ John Bird and memorabilia from the festival down through the years will also take place on Saturday.
Sunday’s Lark in the Park will get under way at 12.30pm in the Fair Green, Athboy, and the queens will swap their heels for the football boots, in a Reeling in the Years fancy-dress football match.
Along with the title of 2017 Blue Jean Country Queen, the winner will receive €1,000 in prize money, sponsored by Athboy Credit Union.
The runner-up will be awarded €500 from Forefront Nutrition, while the contestant in third place will receive €300 from M&G Groundworks.
This year’s festival will be judged by inaugural Queen Samantha Baldwin, who returns to Athboy for the first time since she won the competition in 1987.
Samantha will be joined by returning judge John Conway, a former Macra Leinster vice president, and John Thompson from the Ulster Young Farmers Clubs.
For more information on this year’s festival, as well as tickets and accommodation options, log onto