Ballinasloe horse fair expected to draw 80,000 visitors

Europe’s oldest fair has pig racing and prizes for the best decorated hard-boiled egg

The Ballinasloe Horse Fair is one of the oldest fairs in Ireland. By the time the Fair comes to a close late next Sunday evening, an estimated 80,000 will have passed through Ballinasloe. Video: Daniel O'Connor

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Ballinasloe’s Great October Fair drew up to 20,000 people today and by the time it closes next Sunday evening an estimated 80,000 will have passed through the town.

Most of the activity is based on the Fairgreen where hundreds of horses will change hands.

Among the buyers was Miley Cash from Monasterevin who has been coming to fairs like Ballinasloe and Spanclehill in Co Clare for the last 60 years. He was reportedly in the market for “dozens of horses” and was well into double figures by the close of business on Sunday last.

As well as horses, there are classes for cattle, sheep, poultry, vegetables and art.

Away from the Fairgreen there are prizes for the best decorated hard-boiled egg, best small garden on a tin box and the most outstanding item made from ice-pops sticks.

Other events include pig racing, horse lunging, a soapbox derby and bakery contests.

Fair and Festival chairman, Adrian Ahern, said: “We are delighted. The crowds are great, but it has taken a lot of organising to get to this stage.

“The quality of horses seems to be better than in recent years and the prices are good. There’s a lot of talk here today about a horse changing hands for €20,000.

“We have buyers here from all over the country and also from the UK. We even have buyers who have travelled from Sweden”, he said.

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