More than 180,000 flock to three-day event

AN estimated 182,000 people attended the 79th national ploughing championships which ended on a high note in Athy, Co Kildare, last evening.

The attendance yesterday was 42,000, with 74,000 on Wednesday and 66,000 on Tuesday, the opening day.

Heavy rain overnight made ground conditions difficult but there was a big response from local farmers who provided alternative sites for parking.

Last night, the National Ploughing Association managing director, Anna May McHugh, said not one trade stand was put out of commission because of the weather.

She also announced that next year’s championships will be held on the same site for the third successive year. The dates are September 20, 21 and 22.

The 2011 event will be a significant occasion as it will mark the 80th anniversary of the event’s foundation in Athy, in 1931.

Ms McHugh said the championships will be moving away from Athy after 2011. It is hoped to announce the 2012 venue before Christmas.

She said there was a great atmosphere at this year’s championships, which were held on the Fennin and Fox family farms.

Ms McHugh said she was very pleased with the crowd, the number of trade exhibitors and the encouraging fact that so many young people attended.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen got a good reception as he visited the plots where the European championships were also held.

This year’s event cost €3.5 million to stage and was worth in excess of €10m to the region’s economy.


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