Good weather ensured that the 2nd annual Racing Home for Easter Festival in Mallow was an overwhelming success. Thousands of people including a few hen and stag parties came to Mallow during the 3 day festival to take advantage of the free entertainment and daily activities laid on during the event.
Queues were quickly forming for the bucking bronco and the dunk tank which proved a huge success with deputy Mayor Johnny Griffin becoming one of the brave volunteers to fall into the water. The sun shone during the afternoon as various local musicians such as Johnny Bongos, Cuisle Avondhu, Roulette and Deuces Wild entertained the crowd when they took to the various stages at the Hibernian Hotel, former Central Hotel and at Market Square.
Over the weekend almost 200 people took advantage of the fine weather to embark on the cultural and heritage walks organised by Dan Doolan and Tim Sheehan, while over 90 people raised much needed funds for the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind on the Castle to Castle challenge, from Blarney Castle to Mallow Castle on Easter Saturday, while at Spa House, proud owners paraded their pets –some specially dressed for the occasion – during the Country Lifestyle Pet Show.
Taste buds were tingling from early on Easter Sunday morning as tempting food samples were being displayed during the Food and Craft Fair. Over 60 stall holders, some up at 5am to make the trek from Offaly and Galway to partake in the event. Organiser Ian Lucey was delighted with the response. “This is definitely the largest food fair that we’ve held so far and there’s everything from bratworst to handmade silver jewellery and Indian spices on display”. The visual display didn’t end there, with thousands of coloured balls released down O’Brien Street in the town as part of a charity ball run organised by the local Rotary club with proceeds going to local organisations.
The sunshine continued to beat down on Cork Racecourse Mallow for the best dressed lady and gentleman competition. Former Miss Ireland Vivienne Doyle Quinn was guest judge and was highly impressed with the style on display. It was the first year of the men’s competition. “I have to say the gentlemen have really responded to the challenge, there are some very sharp dressers in Mallow”, said Vivienne. Eventually after much deliberation with her fellow judges, Aideen Murphy from Dromahane and Tom O’Grady from Mallow were deemed the overall winners
Vivienne’s son Daniel was one of the first children to receive an assistance dog from Mallow based charity Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland and she was delighted to be able to raise awareness of the charity which was also holding a collection day at Cork Racecourse Mallow on the day.
The attention turned to Mallow GAA Complex in Carrigoon early on Easter Monday morning when over 100 mums, dad and kids alike registered for the 10km family fun cycle. Organised in association with Cork Sports Partnership, the event was a huge success.
With Garda out riders leading the way, the family event saw the cyclists taking a route through the town. Once they returned to the complex, there was an Easter egg hunt for the children and all participants were presented with certificates.
Festival chairperson Mary Kelly says “the weather was a massive factor in making this weekend the success that it was, but we had a very hard working committee who have been planning this event for the last 12 months and I’m just thrilled that it went so well. Attendance was up 15% during the flat, national hunt and point to point cards at Cork Racecourse Mallow”.
Mallow Chamber President Pat O’Sullivan echoes those sentiments. “Trains from Cork to Mallow were full on Sunday and Monday, I was actually hugged by a taxi driver in town who said it was one of the busiest weekends he can remember in Mallow for many years. We’re only 2 years into establishing this festival and each year the ideas get bigger and we manage to achieve it so who knows what 2012 will hold”.
The festival’s major sponsors include Fáilte Ireland, C103, Irish Rail, Beamish, Mallow Publicans, Avondhu/Blackwater Development, Luna Bella Boutique, Mallow Credit Union, Mallow Primary Healthcare Centre, Knight’s Spar/Carry Out, Mallow Printing Works, Mallow/Vale Star and Weekly Observer newspapers, Art Alliance, Mallow Chamber, Cork Racecourse Mallow, Smack PR, Spiralli Business Solutions and Present Time.