Europe’s oldest horse fair worth €8.5m to Ballinasloe economy

More than 85,000 people are expected to attend the 300-year-old Ballinasloe October Fair and Festival which kicks off on Saturday October 2.

The nine day traditional event costs an estimated €160,000 to organise annually and is worth in the region of €8.5 million to the local economy.

Speaking at the launch of the programme, Brendan Bradley, the chairperson of the fair and festival committee said the event owes a debt of gratitude to its sponsors, especially the local ones.

“Without their help this 300-year-old fair would not survive. As the fair and festival has no direct source of income from tickets or gate receipts we are heavily dependent on sponsorship to meet our costs which have been increasing steadily in recent years and are now in the region of €160,000 annually.

“This year our main sponsor is our local hotel, the Carlton Shearwater Hotel, and we are grateful to them for their support, particularly in these times of economic difficulty. With their support and the support of all our other sponsors we have been able to plan a jam-packed nine day programme of horse and pony competitions, street entertainment, and family events.”

He paid tribute to the voluntary commitment given by the fair and festival organising committee and encouraged young people to become involved in helping to organise this historic event.

“I would like to commend the efforts of the dedicated volunteer committee and indeed, all who contribute to making this tremendous event such a success each year. In an age where people lead increasingly busy lives it is fantastic to see the generosity of time given by the men and women on our organising committee. We are always interested in hearing from people who would like to help us in our preparations to stage this annual event.”

Jacinta Naughton, general manager of the Carlton Shearwater Hotel, said it was delighted to continue as the main sponsor of the Ballinasloe Fair and Festival and support the continuation of this historically significant event.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be associated once again with the Ballinasloe International Horse Fair and Festival. This event is a major boost to the town of Ballinasloe and its hinterland and we in the Carlton Shearwater Hotel are proud of our association with Europe’s oldest horse fair. In these difficult economic times, events such as the Ballinasloe Horse Fair and Festival are a welcome boost to the local economy and should be supported and developed.”

For further information on the 2010 programme of events log on to www.ballinasloeoctoberfair.com

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