Number of overseas buyers at ploughing championships doubles

International interest in Ireland’s showpiece agricultural event has been growing

A record 300,000 people expected to attend this year’s National Ploughing Championships. Photograph: Alan Betson

A record 300,000 people expected to attend this year’s National Ploughing Championships. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

The number of overseas buyers attending this year’s National Ploughing Championships, which takes place in Tullamore next month, has more than doubled, according to the company which runs the event.

Reflecting the event’s growing stature internationally, the National Ploughing Association said it was expecting 99 overseas buyers from a range of countries led by the United States, China and Russia at this year’s event, up from 50 last year.

The uptick in overseas interest was attributed partly to the work of Enterprise Ireland, which runs the innovation arena at the championships with the ploughing association, and which has been busy marketing the event to clients.

National Ploughing Association managing director Anna May McHugh said Enterprise Ireland sees the event, which is now 86th year, “as an ideal shop window to showcase Irish manufacturers and innovators”.

She noted that a range of world-renowned machinery manufacturers, such as Keenans, McHales, Abbey, Major, Cross and Tanco were exhibiting at this year’s event.

With a record 300,000 people expected to attend this year’s three-day event, which begins in Cregan, Tullamore on September 19th, it is now six times the size of Electric Picnic and the biggest outdoor festival of any kind in Europe.

Car show

Apart from machinery, livestock and ploughing, the event serves as Ireland’s unofficial car show, with the show’s auto arena one of the largest exhibition areas.

More recently, it has also become a proxy battleground for big retailers such as Tesco, SuperValu, Lidl and Aldi.

This year’s event will have just over 1,700 exhibition stands. The innovation arena has been expanded and moved indoors to become the biggest indoor exhibition space.

The list of innovations on show this year will include a self-propelled diet feeder, a robotic arm, a snail farm, a child-safety sensor, a solar bin that automatically texts owners when full and a bull-matching service, which the innovators are calling a Tinder for bulls.

More than 5,000km of electrical cable and 10 generators are needed to power the site for the three days, while some 2,300 temporary staff, volunteers, judges and stewards have been appointed to marshall the event.

The latest set of accounts for the National Ploughing Association show the group had an accumulated surplus of just over €14 million as of the end of January this year.