OVER 40,000 people are expected to descend on Limerick this weekend, as the city celebrates the annual four-day Riverfest.
The months of planning have paid off, with over 40 foodie, artistic, cultural and sporting events packed into the weekend. The only thing the organisers said they can do now is get out the Child of Prague and pray that the rain stays at bay.
One of the biggest events of the weekend will be the Coors Light Riverfest BBQ, the largest BBQ cook-off in the country, attracting professional and amateur teams from across Ireland this Saturday.
It will feature a host of gastronomic delights, cookery demonstrations from celebrity chef Donal Skehan and a huge artisan continental fair, while the Milk Market will be bustling like never before.
The weekend kicks off on Friday with a celebration of fashion in an outdoor show under ‘Fashion Friday’ on Thomas Street, while the city will be bathed in a kaleidoscope of colour on Saturday night, with a fireworks display from 9.45pm, best viewed from the city’s bridges.
The national powerboat championships will not take place as part of this year’s festival.
ThunderCat Racing Ireland, which organises the championships, have informed the festival that a number of changes to the licensing system have caused huge difficulties for its crews and it has not been possible to get a sufficient number of them resolved in time. This development is outside of the Riverfest organisers’ control.
Cooks are still fine-tuning their BBQ sauce for Saturday, in the hope of being crowned the BBQ king and potentially seeing their sizzling sauces being sold at large.
Last year’s winning sauce will be sold at this year’s festival and is available to buy in hotels, Gleesons shops, local cafes and butchers for €3.50. Geraldine O’Regan, competing with the Live 95FM team, won the gold medal in the Riverfest 2012 BBQ sauce category.
Local company Masterchefs Hospitality have manufactured the winning sauce from last year’s festival, which was launched this week in the Market Quarter.
Up to 100 teams will compete again this year, bringing their best BBQ recipe to the cook off. Entrants are allowed produce their special Riverfest BBQ sauce prior to taking part in the competition but they must disclose the recipe to the judges on the day.
Last year’s Riverfest saw 40,000 people enjoy their experience in Limerick, and it is expected that even more will throng to the city this weekend as the Great Limerick Run has grown in size.
Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Gerry McLoughlin, said Riverfest has grown into a hugely successful festival which promotes the best of Limerick life and is a really enjoyable weekend.
“Riverfest truly does celebrate our city, highlighting Limerick’s most treasured resources: the scenic River Shannon, our generous hospitality and the exciting events we have to offer,” he said.
“As thousands of visitors to our city will affirm, we know how to enjoy ourselves in Limerick and our friendly welcome is renowned by those who keep coming back year after year. We’re looking forward to hosting Ireland’s biggest party this weekend and a very successful Riverfest 2013,” Mayor McLoughlin added.
Limerick Hotels Association spokesman, Ivan Tuohy, said the feedback from the hotel sector is extremely positive.
“Riverfest is a key event on the Limerick festivals calendar and the May Bank Holiday weekend is now one of the busiest weekends of the year,” he said.
“We feel that Riverfest is now a national brand and with over 30 individual and family events planned, it is really helping to drive 100% occupancy across all the city hotels. We are looking forward to offering all our travelling guests a warm & friendly Limerick welcome when they arrive this weekend. Most of the hotels are arranging special breakfasts and lunches for all the runners’ participating in the Great Limerick Run on the Bank Holiday Sunday so it truly is going to be a super weekend with something for everyone,” Mr Tuohy explained.
Riverfest is run on behalf of the Limerick Communications Office by Futureama Productions.
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