Ballynahinch launched its Game and Harvest Festival last weekend in rain and high winds… and finished in glorious sunshine.
Saturday’s dismal weather failed to dampen the spirits of the enthusiastic family audiences enjoying the boisterous spectacle of living history re-enactments from the historic battle of Ballynahinch, coupled with family fun attractions, in the bustling town centre.
At nearby Montalto Estate, crowds and competitors braved the elements on Saturday for a vibrant mix of superb sporting competition, country-themed display and entertainment, rural retailing and, in NI Year of Food & Drink, great artisan food and drink but on Sunday the sun shone!
Ballynahinch Game & Harvest Festival organiser Albert Titterington, Director of The Great Game Fairs of Ireland, said: “We were absolutely humbled by the great response on Saturday, particularly by country sports competitors who travelled the length and breadth of Ireland and GB to be with us, giving a fantastic day of sport for our hardy audiences and together with our strong exhibitor base from the ROI and GB brought significant bed-night business to the local hospitality trade.
“The weather decimated other events across Northern Ireland, but in Ballynahinch we came through, damp but still smiling, and were delighted to have a sun-filled Sunday at Montalto.
“Sunday told a very different story weather-wise and, bathed in September sunshine, the grounds of Montalto Estate were fabulously beautiful. We had a wonderful day of sport with fantastic shooting and fishing as well as great performances from international-class gundogs, as well as top quality international arena action from a wide range of performers.
“In the main exhibition hall we had displays and rural retailing of the highest standard and, right across the extensive grounds, there were attractions and entertainments to amuse and delight family audiences from town and country.
“History and tradition were very much to the fore, and I would like to pay tribute to all those whose commitment to authenticity and love of the past contributed to this exciting element of our extensive programme. Top marks, too, to those who presented wonderful local produce and showcased the best of country living and lifestyles.”
“Earning accolades in the town centre as winner of the themed dress-a-window competition was Stewart & Gibson department store in Main Street.”
Albert added: “We had wonderful support from the town to stage the 2016 Ballynahinch Game and Harvest Festival and I would like to thank all those who made it a weekend to remember.
“In particular, we enjoyed the support of Tourism NI, Year of Food & Drink 2016, The Ulster-Scots Agency and of course Newry Mourne & Down District Council which embraced the concept as part of its ambitious and far-sighted tourism promotion strategy.”