With just under two weeks to go to the staging of one of Europe’s largest outdoor events, preparations at the site in Ratheniska are well under way for the National Ploughing Championships. The national media were treated to an exciting preview of what to expect, as the event was officially launched on the Co. Laois site.

Launching the event, NPA Managing Director Anna May McHugh said: “The Championships not only provides a national stage for showcasing all things agricultural, but also brings together people from all sectors of Irish society both rural and urban, to enjoy three days immersed in country living”.

“Many visitors to the event take the three days out in late September to have a well-earned break from their daily working lives, particularly following one of the busiest times in the farming calendar, the harvest”.

“Returning annually, the event has been responsible for the forging of many lifelong friendships.”

Food, fashion and farming were the flare of the day as ploughing enthusiasts, public representatives and photographic journalists got a flavour of all that “Ploughing” has to offer.

For machinery addicts, the NPC trade arena goes unrivalled. All the top brands will be showcasing the latest makes and models on the market. Today several guests along with some of Ireland’s top models from the Holman Lee modelling agency took the opportunity to inspect and test drive some of tractors/machinery on site.

There was a great welcome for World Ploughing Conventional Champion, Carlow man Eamonn Tracey and his Republic of Ireland team mate John Whelan who successfully secured bronze at the recent World Ploughing Contest in France. The NPA were also delighted to confirm that now both World Ploughing Champions will be attending the 2014 Ploughing Championships as the Reversible winner, Andrew Mitchell from Scotland will be judging at this year’s event.

Up to 200,000 visitors are expected to descend on the 800 acre site with over 1,400 stands.

This makes the National Ploughing Championships the largest outdoor event in Europe and one of the largest agricultural events in the world.