New contests at National Ploughing Championships

Three-day event in Offaly expected to be one of the largest to date

NPA assistant managing director Anna Marie McHugh, with  Enterprise Ireland chief executive Julie Sinnamon and NPA chairman PJ Lynam, at the launch of the 2016   championships to be held at Screggan, Tullamore. Photograph: Jeff Harvey

NPA assistant managing director Anna Marie McHugh, with Enterprise Ireland chief executive Julie Sinnamon and NPA chairman PJ Lynam, at the launch of the 2016 championships to be held at Screggan, Tullamore. Photograph: Jeff Harvey

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The 85th annual National Ploughing Championships, which takes place later this month in Offaly, is expected to be one of the largest to date. The three-day show, which always involves intensive Garda traffic management, is run by an army of temporary staff, volunteers, judges and stewards who last year numbered 2,363.

The championships is one of the largest outdoor events in Europe. Launching it yesterday, National Ploughing Association managing director Anna May McHugh said: “The championships not only provides a national stage for showcasing all things agricultural, but also brings together people from all sectors of Irish society both rural and urban, to enjoy three days immersed in country living.”

There was “phenomenal interest”, she said, with countries such as Australia, France, UK, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, Germany, Canada and Belgium exhibiting. With 281,000 visitors attending last year and more than 1,500 stands, the championships were one of the market leading agriculture trade fairs worldwide, she said.

This year’s traffic management is to be helped by a pilot park and ride system for vehicles from Dublin. The service will be complementary and will operate frequently each way during the three days, giving visitors the added benefit of a drop-off point within a few hundred metres of exhibition arena, the NPA said in a statement.

An extended trade arena will see the return of the popular tented retail village, with demand necessitating the return of the “Dome”, the biggest arcade yet, with more than 120 exhibitors displaying in the one arena plus hundreds more located in specialist pavilions.

New initiatives will include the machine of the year competition, charity calves auction and Ireland’s first tractor football matches. The Volkswagen Amarok V6 Experience, a 4x4 off-road driving experience is not for the faint-hearted.

The National Ploughing Championships takes place from September 20th-22nd in Screggan, Tullamore. Tickets and further details from npa.ie or by phoning 059-862 5125. Special student and group rates apply to pre-event orders and entry is free for children under 12.

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