IT was one of the most iconic structures set up during City of Culture and the cascading red draped Spiegeltent will be back this year, bigger and better.
One of the major festivals to take place last year, Culture & Chips, will return to Limerick again this June Bank Holiday weekend, featuring Mick Flannery, Hermitage Green and Eddi Reader, who will all perform in the tent in Arthur’s Quay Park.
The steering committee for the festival, which drew substantial funding from the City of Culture budget, is gearing up to announce the festival’s return in the coming weeks, with the centrepiece events - the World Chip Championship and the Culinary Banquet and Cabaret des Frites with Jean McGlynn - all set to return.
But the eye was drawn to the massive Salon Perdu Spiegeltent which was erected in Arthur’s Quay Park for the festival last year. Nigel Dugdale, a member of steering committee, said that there would be a “larger Spiegeltent than last year and there will be opportunities for companies to take booths in the tent for the duration of the festival”.
The emphasis behind the festival last year was to provide residents a reason to stay in the city on the June Bank Holiday and to draw visitors to the city - as the May weekend does - and that remains the thinking among the organisers.
“The concept last year sowed the seeds for a new festival on the June Bank Holiday when typically not much happens in Limerick,” said Nigel.
“We want to give people a region to stay in the city and especially bring people to Arthur’s Quay, which tends to be forgotten.
“We feel we have a brand now and it is established, while in its infancy, over the next four or five years we can really put Limerick on the map for the June Bank Holiday weekend,” he added, noting that survey carried out among City of Culture attendees last year ranked Culture & Chips highly among the top events of the year.
“The banquet is returning – cooked by Paul Williams of Canteen – which was a real draw last year, as will the World Chip Championship event, which will be open to all to enter. We were the first city in the world to crown a chip champion last year,” he said.
“There will be kids’ events throughout the festival - and the tent should be in situ for almost a week, we will be putting on as many events as possible,” he added.
Carlow’s Lema Murphy was crowned the world’s first chip champion during Culture & Chips last year. Three contestants - frittered down from many more - competed for the title of the best chip chopper, designer and frier on the globe.
The contestants had to impress judges Nick Munier of Masterchef Ireland, local restauranteurs Dan Mullane of the Mustard Seed and Lorraine Fanneran of La Cucina, plus Fergal Deegan, advertising manager with Live 95FM.
Lema took the spoils with her dish: triple cooked chips with a baked bean and bacon sauce, plus a deep fried egg yolk.
Details of this year’s festival will be announced in the coming weeks, while tickets for the various events will also go on sale soon.