THE Northern Ireland Countryside Festival is back bigger and better this year in Moira with a focus on the wonderful world of industry, heritage and culture in Ulster.
The two day spectacular which attracted more than 20,000 visitors last year, will feature three great events in one giant festival - the National Countrysports Fair, Finn McCool Strongman Festival and the brand new Back to Our Roots Festival - on Saturday, May 25, and Sunday, May 26, at Moira Demesne.
Celebrating Northern Ireland culture, the Back to Our Roots Festival will highlight the rich heritage and culture that the province has been famous for - placing Northern Ireland on the world-stage.
The Back to Our Roots Festival has teamed up with the Ulster Aviation Society who will display a range of items including the Grumman F4F Wildcat (WW2) Royal Navy fighter plane and will offer visitors the chance to try out an ejector seat, invented by County Down’s Sir James Martin and now fitted to all modern military aircraft.
Families will also enjoy displays of the locally invented Ferguson tractors, Hillsborough cardiologist Professor Frank Pantridge’s earliest models of his portable defibrillator and the process of linen manufacturing which was so prolific in Northern Ireland. There will be rural crafts, forestry, boat building, fishing and farming displays and the chance to see some of Northern Ireland’s most popular delicacies produced from Irish butter - churning to soda bread and champ.
A fun addition throughout both days of the weekend will include Farmer-a-thon, inviting farmers young and old to get back to their roots and battle it out in a three event competition including straw bale throwing, wheelbarrow racing with a female passenger and horse shoe throwing.
A line-up of musical acts reflecting the traditional, country and modern musical tastes of Northern Ireland will allow visitors a chance to relax and make the most of the music, food and refreshments throughout the weekend.
The already successful National Countrysports Fair will see the much anticipated return of the Cossack Horsemen to the main ring while the Phoenix Falconry Birds of Prey Display, Gundog handling demonstrations and the dog ability shows including Scruffs are always popular and big crowd favourites. There will also be a chance for the public to sample the country sports activities such as clay pigeon shooting, archery and falconry.
The Strongman Arena will stage the Finn McCool Celtic Games, where ten times UK Strongest Man Glen Ross will host two exciting days of competitions between Celtic Giants from home and abroad on Saturday, May 25, and Ulster’s Strongest Man competition on Sunday, May 26. The Finn McCool Trophy will be awarded to the modern-day Giant following two days of gruelling competition that will include caber tossing, power lifting, vehicle pulling, wrestling and sheaf throwing.
The Northern Ireland Countryside Festival runs from 10am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday. The adult admission fee is £12 and children can go free when accompanied by an adult. Free on-site car parking is available. More information on this and all aspects of the two-day festival is available at www.nicountryside.com and on Twitter and Facebook.