Athlone woman announced as Ballinasloe Fair queen for its 300th anniversary

An Athlone woman has been crowned Queen of Ballinasloe Fair, ahead of the 300th fair and festival starting this Sunday.

Melissa Glynn from Crannagh, Athlone was crowned this year's festival queen at Gullane's Hotel on Friday last.

Melissa is a primary school teacher and she is involved in the equine trade, producing, selling and showing horses. She represented John Bracken, Irish Celtic Healing, Ballinasloe. Her hobbies are country dancing, jiving waltz and Irish and line dancing.

The week-long festival incorporates three horse sale dates on Sunday, October 2, Monday, October 3 and Saturday, October 8.

Festival Chairman Mal Croffy said: “The Ballinasloe Horse fair is the oldest in Europe, and the greatest celebration of the horse, and equine culture in Ireland.”

The committee has worked tirelessly to put together a programme of events to ensure visitors to Ballinasloe have an enjoyable and memorable experience. He continued: “The equestrian element of our programme is essential to the continuance of the fair, our loose lunging competitions on the opening day for three year old horses and ponies has been very successful since its inception 30 years ago. These competitions continue to draw international buyers to Ballinasloe because the grade of horses and ponies competing has increased year on year and it is no surprise to here that some of those animals have gone on to compete at international showjumping events.

Misleór which celebrates the heritage of nomadic cultures in Galway will feature at the Fair on Monday. Two wooden horses built from recycled materials will be on display in St Michael’s Square, accompanied by tinsmith Tom McDonnell, who will run an interactive tinsmithing workshop. This installation was developed to celebrate the importance of horses in nomadic cultures and was a collaboration with members of both Traveller and Mongolian communities, and local artist Tommy Casby. Misleór Illuminated will also take place that evening from 8pm at St Michael’s Church, Ballinasloe.

Renowned chef Rachel Allen will headline with her culinary skills at a cooking, fashion and fun night in the Shearwater Hotel on Thursday, October 6 at 8pm. The festival fireworks show starts at 7pm on Friday, October 7 with fun family entertainment. The Don King dancing troupe will commence their show at 7.30pm. Don is an international street dance teacher and performer and along with his dance troupe will be performing on the festival sound stage preceding the fireworks at 8.30pm.

The festival jiving competition will begin at 9pm in St Michaels Square and the tarmac tug of war will take place on main street at 9pm.

Saturday, October 8 sees the return of the mare and foal fair in the green with stalls and street entertainment in the town centre to commemorate the 300th anniversary. A special concert headlined by Abbaesque will start at 8pm on Saturday night.

On Sunday, October 9 the festival dog show, food and craft market, children’s bakery competitions, children’s tractor race and vintage display will take place in the town centre. Due to popular demand the motorbike stunt show returns for three shows on Dunlo Street at 1.30pm. The show involves motorcycle arena trials specialists performing amazing feats of bravery.