THOUSANDS of people are expected to make their way to West Limerick this weekend as the inaugural Munster Food and Garden Show gets under way.
The two-day show in Croagh has attracted some of the big names from the worlds of food and gardening, with BBC’s Monty Don and RTE’s Rachel Allen as the feature acts.
Joining them will be Munster’s favourite gardener, Charlie Wilkins, and no-salt chef Brian McDermott, plus a strong line-up of other experts. But fashion will also get a look in, headed up by Limerick’s ever-glamorous style queen Celia Holman Lee.
Some of the biggest crowds however are expected for the Limerick-based chocolate company, Pandora Bell. Their chocolate cheesecake wowed Kanye West and Kim Kardashian when they honeymooned at Castle Oliver last year and enthusiasts and wannabes will be shown how to recreate the treat at demonstrations over the weekend.
The Guiltenane family, which owns and runs the D&M Garden Centre, is behind this weekend’s show and all this week, the huge field behind the centre was being readied for the event.
“We have run a number of similar but smaller events,” Dermot Guiltenane said. “But we realised there is a huge appetite among people for events of this kind. We have gone to various shows and thought, why not bring it to West Limerick.”
In addition, Mr Guiltenane said, they realised that there was a demand among smaller businesses for a platform to promote their products.
The response to their inaugural show has been hugely positive, Mr Guiltenane continued. Planning for it began late last year but, he said: “It seems to have grown as we have gone along.”
Over 80 exhibitors have signed up for the weekend and that number is still growing.
“Word of mouth has been fantastic,” Mr Guiltenane added.
The site will accommodate both outdoor and indoor exhibitors along with a number of show-gardens. The Garden Arena will be housed, along with large screen TVs, in a giant glass-house; a huge marquee has been erected for the Food Arena and the Style Arena will be housed in the adjacent Croagh School of Music.
Children, who can attend free along with a paying adult, get their own zone where entertainment and fun will be on offer throughout both days. And there will be an open-air stage with live entertainment.
“The big names have been a huge attraction,” Mr Guiltenane said, and food and gardening enthusiasts are coming from all over the country for a chance to meet their heroes in person.
“I am delighted to be appearing at the Munster Food and Garden Show and being part of what I believe will prove to be a fantastic yearly event,” said Monty Don who will give two gardening workshops on Sunday.
“It will be great to see first-hand the fantastic selection of products, display gardens and horticulture businesses which the Munster region has to offer. I am also looking forward to sampling some of the delicious foods which will be on offer.”
Rachel Allen will be in Croagh on Saturday afternoon but demonstrations will continue throughout both days along with Brian McDermott, gluten-free baking, kids cookery and the Young Chef of the Year competition.
There will also be specialist gardening workshops as well as general ones led by Charlie Wilkins, display gardens and pop-up gardens to visit, a food village, craft and beauty stalls, and more.
The show runs from 9am to 6pm on Saturday and Sunday with lots of parking available. Full details online or on Facebook.