This year heralds the return of the International Miss Macra Festival to Thurles, Co Tipperary.
The 45th annual festival will take place over the August Bank Holiday weekend, from Friday, July 29, to Monday, August 1.
Such is the high calibre of venues in Thurles that the festival will take place in three locations — Hayes Hotel, the birthplace of the GAA, on Friday night; The Dome, Semple Stadium, on Saturday; and the family-run Anner Hotel on Sunday night.
The Anner Hotel will be the primary location for this year’s welcome reception, private interviews, and gala banquet.
The Anner is owned and run by the Maher brothers, lifelong supporters of Macra na Feirme who facilitating the festival’s return to Thurles.
This year will once again see young ladies travelling from all over Ireland and abroad, in the hope of following in the footsteps of last year’s winner, Susan Willis from Co Carlow.
The festival will get under way on the Friday when contestants will meet with the festival committee in the Anner. Contestants will also take a personal tour of the world-famous Coolmore Stud Farm, followed by lunch.
Next, a zumba class will take place in the Clonoulty Community Hall where contestants, host families, and locals will get the chance to meet and greet; a long-standing tradition of this festival.
The Friday night will be comprised of a 90s-themed disco in the historic Hayes Hotel. Doors will open at 10pm.
Saturday morning will see the contestants rise early and prepare for private interviews in front of a three-person judging panel.
The judges are Joan Pollard Carew, Geraldine Henchion, and Declan Ryan.
Ms Pollard Carew is representing Michael Carew Jewellers, Friar St, Thurles, the main sponsor of the festival. A published poet and well known nationally in art and Irish dancing circles, she and her husband contribute greatly to the festival in terms of invaluable support, time, and advice.
Ms Henchion, known for her work with Tipp FM, makes her debut on the judging panel. She is also well known in art circles and is very involved in drama societies.
Mr Ryan, who has held every known post on the International Miss Macra Festival committee and also currently holds the title of president of the Clonoulty/Rossmore Macra club, completes the judging committee.
Saturday evening’s caberet will take place in the Dome, Semple Stadium, where the contestants will be interviewed on stage two at a time by Mike Egan, a previous Macra member and a long-term friend of the festival.
The interviews will be followed by live music from Switch.
Sunday morning starts with the contestants attending Mass at Clonoulty Parish Church followed by a family fun field day and barbecue in Clonoulty GAA grounds.
Sunday night brings the International Miss Macra Gala Banquet in the Anner Hotel.
Following official photographs and a champagne reception, the contestants, their escorts, host-families, various supporters, and Macra and non-Macra members will all sit down to a five-course meal.
After some speeches, there will be live music by Silver Dollar.
At the enchanting hour of midnight, the winner will be crowned.
To find out more, find the festival on Facebook, on Twitter, or check out www. missmacra.weebly.com for all the latest information.
For ticket information, contact Anne Marie Lyng, the festival chairwoman, on 087 1339602.
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