The site in Ratheniska, Stadbally Co Laois will be a hive of activity this weekend as exhibitors put the finishing touches to their stands for the 82 National Ploughing Championships.

The grounds of the event have witnessed major change and preparations over the past number of months and are now ready for hosting 180,000 expected visitors, next week. 

With more than 1,300 exhibitors manning stands across a broad spectrum of Agriculture, Forestry, Motors, Lifestyle, Business Services, Education, Tourism, Food, Health, Crafts and much more, there is something for all the family to enjoy.

Some of this year’s exhibits that are sure to prove very popular include:

The Husqvarna Hurdle – Where the public will be invited to test their skills and agility on a large obstacle course in a 35sq meter arena. (Block 2, Row Aa-a, Stand 1)

The Bandstand – Operating a free Wi-Fi hotspot, the Bandstand will witness the first ever “Tweetup” to be staged at the event taking place on Wednesday at 2pm. Organised by Elaine Hall @newfarmerette, all avid tweeters are welcome to attend the #Ploughing event.

For music lovers, the Bandstand will showcase the best in local and Irish talent. Over the 3 days, the line-up will include Portlaoise Gospel Choir, Hill Billy Porter, Laois Ceoltas, James & Robert Harvey, PJ Murrihy, 65 Kitchen Choir and many more. (Block 2, Row B1, Stand 538)

Food lovers will be spoiled for choice with several stands presenting Cookery demonstrations throughout the 3 days. Neven Maguire will be entertaining crowds with his culinary skills at 11pm, 1pm and 3pm each day in the Irish Farmers Journal tent.

Over in the National Dairy Council tent, Phelim Byrne will be sharing easy and exciting recipes that incorporate the use of Irish produce such as milk, cheese and yogurt; while the Irish Country Womans Association will host Edward Hayden and Cathal Moran over the 3 days. In addition, Irish Olympian and winner of RTE Celebrity Masterchef, David Gillick will be cooking up at the Electric Ireland stand each day at 11.30am, 2.30pm and 4.30pm.

For aspiring fashionistas, the Championships is a must attend event. Once again, this year will see the dedicated Fashion Marquee house the highly popular daily fashion shows at 11.30am, 1.30pm and 3.30pm.

With a large number of boutiques and fashion houses taking to the catwalk, the ladies from the Holman Lee Model Agency will style the latest trends and vogues. Also taking place will be the ever popular “Most Appropriately Dressed Lady” and “Most Appropriately Dressed Gent” competitions which are kindly sponsored by Wineport Lodge and Louis Copeland & Sons. Those attending the Fashion Marquee are also encouraged to complete an entry form for the “Grand Audience Prize” which is a voucher to the value of €500 kindly sponsored by Thomas Cook Holidays.

As machinery continues to be a main attraction at the event, all the top brands will be showcasing their latest models with representatives on hand to answer all your queries. Some to the top plant & machinery brands this year include New Holland, Massey Ferguson, Valtra, Landini, McCormick, Case IH, Deutz-Fahr, Shire, Class, Manitou, Zetor, Tumosan and Kubota. For those with a specific interest in tractors, the “Live Tractor Build” is returning to the Championships this year and is sure to prove extremely popular. Fans can witness this feat daily at Block 1, Row W, Stand 375.

For those feeling energetic and healthy, the “Plough-On & Run” which is a 10km fun run in aid of VITA will be taking place on September 22nd at 11am in Ratheniska, Stradbally, Co Laois. With a ‘Sport & Fitness’ theme running through many of the stands at this year’s event, several stands will be attended by celebrity sports personnel. For example, Rugby fans will have the opportunity to rub shoulders with Paul O’Connell at the Pinergy stand or with John “The Bull” Hayes at the Progressive Genetics stand while Alan Quinlan will be at the NDC tent.

For Hurling fans, Corbett Sport and Canning Hurleys are must visit stands where Lar and Joe will surely be on hand to meet their fellow lovers of the sport. While Tipperary hurler Pádraic Maher and Dublin hurling manager Anthony Daly will be at the NDC tent.

For all other GAA fans the Cumann Luthchleas Gael tent located at Block 4, Row S, Stand 308 is a must. Boxing fans have the opportunity to meet Irish Olympian Darren O’Neill at the National Dairy Council dome while also learning the benefits of milk for rehydration. Also, here sport enthusiasts can participate in virtual penalty shootouts.

This year for the first time the National Ploughing Championships will have a dedicated Children’s Playground, which has been constructed by Laois Ploughing in conjunction with Go Play/Kompan. Children and Parents alike can find this new attraction located at Block 3, Row V, Stand 364.

Pictured Launching the brochure for the 82nd National Ploughing Championships to be held at Ratheniska, Co Laois 24th – 25th – 26th September. From left: David Carter, land owner; Anna May McHugh, NPA MD; James Sutton, NPA chairman and Sean Farrell, Head of Agriculture, Bank of Ireland.