THE 26th consecutive Harvest Fair - Milford Hospice’s “biggest fundraising event” - will take place on Sunday, August 21 at the Unigolf Complex.
The importance of the hugely popular fair, which drew in excess of 30,000 people onto the ground last year and raised more than €150,000 in total for the care centre, could not be exaggerated, particularly given the worrying economic state of the country, explained Milford CEO Pat Quinlan, speaking at the launch of the fair last week.
“The annual Harvest Fair is our biggest fundraising event. It is that time of year again and we are very much hoping that we will have a bumper turn out,” he explained.
“We are certainly finding new challenges in trying to ensure that the services we provide are not reduced in any way. We are trying to make sure they continue to be of the highest quality and the support that comes from the Harvest Fair and the people of the Mid-West, is extremely important to us,” he added.
Mr Quinlan explained that “more than a million euro” has been raised for the hospice over the past 25 years from the popular event, which is hugely significant. He explained that the HSE “fund approximately 80 percent of the cost of operating the services”; costs which come in at some €15 million a year, so the shortfall must be met by other means, chiefly fundraising.
“Fundraising is an important aspect of trying to bridge the gap between what the HSE fund us for and the shortfall,” he agreed.
Taking over the reins of this year’s event after Eamonn Ryan’s 25 year chairmanship is Co Down man Sexton Cahill, who moved to Limerick in 1981 and has been involved with Milford for more than 15 years.
“It is an interesting organisational challenge,” said Mr Cahill, Raheen.
“If we work even towards the numbers of last year, we reckon there was 30,000 here last year, so you are talking almost like a game in Thomond Park - and this happens with a group of volunteers running it, which is fantastic. My reckoning is that we will need about a 100 volunteers to run the thing successfully,” he added.
This year - the fourth it has been held in the Unigolf complex - the fair will feature “11,200 square feet of tented village” for people to enjoy the bric a brac on sale, live music, stalls, animal shows, face painting, barbeques and Munster’s largest rally of vintage cars and tractors - among many other attractions.
“We are appealing for goods and for people to come and help us on the day and see it as ‘their day’,” added Mr Cahill.