Community spirit and community pride were the hallmarks of the first-ever White River Festival which took place in Ballyhahill last weekend.
And, contrary to expectations, the weather held up for throughout, resulting in healthy crowds for the various events.
“God smiled on us,” said Gary Thompson, one of the team from Gerald Griffins’ Bord na nOg which organised the festival.
“The rain held off until 10.30 on Sunday night and by then everyone was in the marquee and we had them fed.”
The mood throughout the weekend was brilliant, he enthused. “For everyone, the buzz has been absolutely fantastic.”
All the events in the packed programme drew capacity crowds, starting with the teenage disco in the marquee on Friday night. And the specially erected marquee earned its stripes again on Saturday night for a good old-fashioned ceili.One of the highlights of the weekend, and certainly one of the most amusing, was the novelty football match between the Beach Babes and the River Surfers aka the parish’s over 35s, men and women who decked out in bikinis and shorts to play with a giant inflatable ball.
And there was more hilarity at the Lovely Ladies competition on Sunday evening when the mysterious Jacqui de Blanc from Clounlehard pipped a bevy of known beauties to take the prize. In true Fr Ted style, it later transpired that Ms de Blanc is better known as James Chawke.
A lady of another ilk, Daisy the Cow also proved to be the sure-fire winner at the sports day on Sunday. Daisy’s “cow-pat patches” were snapped up helping to raise much needed funds for Bord na nOg.
“It was great to see all the children out playing and running around,” Mr Thompson said of the sports day which also included old-fashioned favourites such as sheaf-tossing and wellie-throwing.
In a whirlwind of a weekend, the only non co-operation came from the fish who made themselves scarce for the fishing competition on the Abha Bhan. But nobody was really complaining.
The festival also proved a financial success. Mr Thompson said happily: “We are still counting.”