Organisers ‘conscious’ of those without internet access as ‘Ploughing’ goes virtual

The National Ploughing Association (NPA) has said it is “conscious” of those who may have limited or no internet and social media access as some events of the National Ploughing Championships will go ahead virtually next week (September 15 to 17).

Anna Marie McHugh of the NPA told AgriLand that all involved are eager for the week ahead and are working in a bid to keep it as the “calendar slot for rural Ireland”.

“There’s a few things that have happened behind closed doors and virtually. With the national brown bread competition, the qualifier has taken place already and the finals will be next week, announced on Thursday [September 17] evening,” McHugh explained.

“With Enterprise Ireland’s Innovation Awards, that has also been happening virtually – there have been videos taken of each of the finalists.

“It was a very unfortunate medium for the exhibitors to lose, especially with the year it has been so far – so to generate some awareness of their businesses, we’ve been engaging with them and given them the opportunity to put up offers online or to send in videos with messages.

To have events to look forward to is really uplifting.

Even the Most Appropriately Dressed Lady and Gent competitions will go ahead, with entries being received through social media.

‘Trying to make sure everyone can interact’

Amid all the excitement, McHugh stressed that all those involved in the events are “conscious” that there are people out there who would attend the actual event normally, but may not have access to internet, high-speed broadband, or are proficient in using social media.

“It’s great that we can still get the message out there this year and keep the thoughts of the ‘Ploughing’ in people’s minds – but we are staying conscious of those who are not social media gurus,” McHugh continued.

“If people even want to ring in to us and acknowledge the event, maybe they have memories they’d like to share – we welcome that. We don’t want people to miss out completely due to the circumstances.

“The week has always managed to be about rural Ireland – we want to hold that slot.”

‘A bit of light at the end of this dark tunnel…’

In 89 years, the National Ploughing Championship has only ever been cancelled once before – in 2001, due to the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

That time, only two senior classes were held, but this time there will be six of 21 senior competitions taking place, according to McHugh. However, they have been postponed from the original dates of September 15 to 17, instead taking place on October 6 to 8.

“There was a lot of excitement up until now that the event was going to be going ahead,” she said.

“It was just a little bit of a light at the end of this quite dark tunnel.”