Get Set For The Fantastic Ballynahinch Harvest And Country Living Festival

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Visit the Ballynahinch Harvest and Country Living Festival Montalto Estate Saturday 27, Sunday 28 September & Ballynahinch town centre Saturday 27 September 2014.

Montalto Logo 2 copyNorthern Ireland’s rich rural traditions and scenic Autumn splendours will be cause for celebration this September at an all-new Ballynahinch Harvest & Country Living Festival which is expected to draw more than 15,000 people to the County Down town.

Over the weekend of Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 September, for the first time in decades, the stunning Montalto Estate will be open to the public as its extensive grounds become the elegant location for the Ballynahinch Harvest & Country Living Festival.

On Saturday 27 September, Ballynahinch town will add its own uniquely historic dimension to the new celebratory ‘Fall’ festival weekend with a magnificent re-enactment of the famous Battle of Ballynahinch and a programme of country-themed events reminiscent of the traditional Harvest, Pig and Potato Fairs for which the town was once rightly famed.

That wonderfully quirky mix of ‘Pigs, Potatoes and Pageantry’ in town, coupled with a two-day celebration of country sports, pursuits and lifestyles at Montalto, capitalises on the geographic and historic attributes of Ballynahinch, as event organiser Albert Titterington, Director of Country Lifestyle Exhibitions, explained: “This is a unique festival for a unique town, its twin locations playing to the strengths of the history, heritage and layout of Ballynahinch.

[caption id="attachment_51279" align="alignright" width="270"]Ballynahinch heroine, Betsy Gray (aka. Ingrid Houwers) prepares for any eventuality as she helps launch the Ballynahinch Harvest & Country Living Festival. Ballynahinch heroine, Betsy Gray (aka. Ingrid Houwers) prepares for any eventuality as she helps launch the Ballynahinch Harvest & Country Living Festival.[/caption]

“The house at Montalto, originally built in the 1700s by Lord Rawdon, Earl of Moira, has a particularly rich history, encompassing The Battle of Ballynahinch when, in June 1798, the United Irishmen fought government forces on nearby Ednavaddy Hill. Today, the house sits on an estate of 400 acres and it remains largely closed to the general public although available for weddings and private parties. Now for two days only, the gates of this secluded estate will open exclusively for the Ballynahinch Harvest & Country Living Festival.

“The ‘companion’ one day event centred in and around the old Market Square will reinforce the town’s historic connections with an emphasis on creating a focus of fun for all the family with a fully costumed re-enactment of the Battle of Ballynahinch creating a spectacular highlight.”

The event, which has been more than a year in the planning, is being backed by Down District Council and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. Albert Titterington who has fifty-four major game fairs to his credit, including the Great Game Fair & Flavour Fine Food Festival held annually at Shanes Castle in Antrim, is confident of its success. He says, “ Having been responsible for launching the Game Fair concept in Ireland, I am extremely excited to launch this unique twin locus ‘Town & Country Festival’ with two large scale events in the same weekend – one centred on Ballynahinch and the other on the beautiful Montalto Estate. Our team is really looking forward to planting the seed for a Harvest Festival which will grow for the future, carving a reputation as one of the most distinctive events on Northern Ireland’s country calendar.

“Expect to see all that is best in game fairs and country shows set alongside the better things in life that the countryside can offer. This marriage of game fair elements with fine country style and living history will succeed in bringing the Game Fair’s regular visitors and patrons together with an upmarket, discerning audience of those who live, work and play in the countryside and those who aspire to embrace the country life – at least for a day or two!

Looking forward to a weekend packed with county-comes-to-town celebrations, Down District Council Chairman, Councillor Billy Walker, said, “Major events are an important element of Down District Council’s tourism growth strategy and we look forward to Ballynahinch benefiting not only from the raised profile which will be generated by this exciting attraction, but also from the solid economic benefits which the expected influx of visitors will bring to the locality’s retailers and its hospitality sector.

[caption id="attachment_51283" align="alignleft" width="390"]Historical re-enactors brought drama and a sense of heritage to the launch of the new Ballynahinch Harvest & Country Living Festival. Behind the guns and behind the event are, from left, Deputy Chair, Councillor Des Patterson; Councillor Walter Lyons, Councillor Patrick Toman and Councillor Anne Marie McAleenan. Historical re-enactors brought drama and a sense of heritage to the launch of the new Ballynahinch Harvest & Country Living Festival. Behind the guns and behind the event are, from left, Deputy Chair, Councillor Dessie Patterson; Councillor Walter Lyons, Councillor Patsy Toman and Councillor Anne Marie McAleenan.[/caption]

“The Council is an active partner in this initiative and we are delighted that the rich history of Ballynahinch will be honoured in such imaginative style. We will shortly be unveiling details of our own plans for a fantastic day of Harvest-themed activities for the town centre, complementing the weekend programme at Montalto.”

The Ballynahinch Harvest and Country Living Festival at Montalto Estate will bring a packed programme of entertainment:

*  Main Arena entertainment programme drawing from all facets of the fair, including

*  gundog, horse and hounds, horse drawn vehicles, fly casting and falconry displays and demonstrations, living history re-enactments, a Medieval jousting tournament, TV shepherdess Katy Cropper and more.

*  Full Game Fair sporting programme including international clay shooting, gundog tests, angling, terrier and lurcher championships and a range of demonstrations and displays. Expect to see attractive prize funds and stiff competition!

*  A country-focused retail exhibition village featuring 100 trade partners , presenting all that’s finest in country living

*  Country fashion show.

*  Fine Food Festival bringing together select artisan food and drink producers

*  plus selected suppliers from across Ireland and the UK.

*  Living history re-enactments celebrating the famous Battle of Ballynahinch with

*  skirmishes both in the town, the event’s main arena and around the fair, complete with a Living History Village where visitors can interact with combatants and even meet the legendary Betsy Gray – famed as one of the heroines of the battle in the book ‘ Betsy Gray or Hearts of Down’.

*  Medieval themed excitement, including a Jousting Tournament, John de Courcy coins minted on site and a Medieval banquet complete with costumed servers, falconer and harpist playing period music.

*  A theme celebrating harvest and the county way of life with music, arts and crafts displays, a horse drawn vehicle cavalcade and themed entertainments and competitions for children.

Launching the event, Albert Titterington reinforced the potential economic benefits to the town and said: “I’m delighted to be staging this event in my own home County, not least because I know that major events have the capacity to make a significant postitive contribution to the economy of a region. This is recognised by the generous support of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Down District Council.

“Our key attractions have been booked and of course many of our exhibitors from our Game Fairs have already booked exhibition stands, but commercial opportunities are still available for those with quality products and services relevant to the country lifestyle … and, for businesses based in Down District Council area, I am offering a special local discount of 20%. I hope that gesture will encourage local businesses to become part of a weekend which will be great not only for visitors, but also, for the local tourism, hospitality and rural businesses.”

For further details of the event see:

www.ballynahinchharvestfestival.com

or view the short promotional video https://vimeo.com/96788960.

For details of how to exhibit at the event call Country Lifestyle Exhibitions Ltd on 02844839167 or 44615416 E: irishgamefair@btinternet.com

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