The 53rd annual Queen of the Land festival is just around the corner, with the official launch of the midlands-based event held last Friday, October 6, in Tullamore, Co. Offaly.

The Macra na Feirme run event returns to Tullamore every November for an “action-packed” weekend, where the winners of the county/regional rounds of the competition – the ‘Queens’ – compete for the national crown.

This year’s festival features 31 girls, all contending for the title of ‘W.R. Shaw Queen of the Land 2017’ – including international representatives from Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.

According to organisers, the festival will attract visitors from all over the country and beyond to Tullamore on the weekend of Friday, November 10, to Sunday, November 12.

This year’s judges are: Karen Elliffe, reigning W.R. Shaw Queen of the Land 2016; Billy Shaw, representative of W.R. Shaw; and guest judge Deirdre O’ Shea, executive director of Agri Aware. The MC for the weekend is Midlands 103 radio presenter Will Faulkner.

Speaking at the launch, the chairman of the organising committee Ger Mahon said: “We are delighted to have W.R. Shaw back as the main sponsor of this year’s festival and we sincerely extend our gratitude to them for their continued support and commitment to the festival.

The committee has worked very hard to ensure that the 2017 W.R. Shaw Queen of the Land Festival is the best yet with an action-packed weekend featuring a fantastic line-up of entertainment for this year’s festival – guaranteed not to disappoint.

Kicking off on the Friday evening, the festival will have its official opening at the Bridge House Hotel, Tullamore, from 7:00pm – with doors opening at 9:30pm for international DJ act Sash.

Saturday will see the introduction of the Queens to their escorts for the weekend in Hugh Lynch’s bar at 3:00pm.

This will be followed by the “highly-anticipated” on-stage interviews with the Queens from 7:00pm with MC Will Faulkner. A disco will take place once the on-stage interviews have concluded, organisers say.

The main highlight of the festival weekend will of course be the gala banquet on Sunday night, with music by White Diamond, and the crowning of the 2017 W.R. Shaw Queen of the Land at midnight.

Weekend entertainment tickets for entry to all events (including the gala banquet) are available and can be ordered in advance on the festival website. Admission is also available on the door for the opening night, on-stage interviews and crowning ceremony.