THE rain might have beaten The Blizzards but the King Guaire Rí-Rá Festival has been hailed a great success and there is already speculation the festival could become an annual event.
Although the performance by The Blizzards, the headline act at the RiVibe Youthfest and Sunday’s family sports day were called off because of persistent rain, spirits remained high for the other events that took place over the weekend.
Despite the two high-profile cancellations, the festival was well supported and organisers believe it received the impetus for a successful Rí-Rá 2010.
RiVibe was a particular favourite at the festival, with two days of music and entertainment in Canon Quinn Park.
“Fr Frankie Lee and his colleagues put an enormous amount of work into the Youthfest but the headline act had to be cancelled because the relentless rain had made the stage and equipment simply too dangerous to use,” explained Austin McInerney, festival spokesman.
The clouds cleared when The Blizzards were keen to agree a new date for Gort, which is expected to be in late October at an indoor venue.
All tickets sold will be honoured and additional tickets will be released. Information will be available on RiVibe bebo and MySpace pages.
“The first two days witnessed excellent variety of music from such bands as The Wave, The Followers of Otis, Disconnect 4, Daire and Naomi McSwiney, among others. There was an excellent atmosphere each evening in the park with a variety of fun events in addition to the music,” Austin recalled.
The festival events ran over four days with a concert from Andy Irvine, two well-attended talks on the life of King Guaire and a full-house performance of Faith Healer by The Wild Swan Theatre Company.
“Friday had a fantastic treasure hunt for kids around the town, with over 50 children participating. Gort Vibes Cinema Club ran a comedy to an appreciative audience and there was a concert with Dermot Hegarty in Gort Community Centre,” Austin continued.
Saturday proved a particularly successful day for the festival, bucking the weather trend with a bright blue sky for The Burren Hike, Gort Rugby Club’s tag rugby competition and the day’s highlight, the Centra picnic and barbeque in aid of Childline, which earned almost €800. According to Austin, “this was a massive success and one of the festival highlights”.
Sunday, however, brought the organisers back down to earth. Heavy rain affected the turnout of stalls for the country market but the small number who came were happy with the response of those who braved the weather and ventured out.
The sports day was to be one of the main events of the festival and, despite the rain, well over 100 children and parents arrived at the new all-weather pitch beside the community centre. However, it was decided that the elements had won and the event was cancelled.
The open day at Lough Cultra Castle attracted 150 cars with occupants hoping to see the private, historical estate. Despite the rain, the view across Lough Cultra was magnificent, with children and adults taking the old stone steps down to the lake’s edge to appreciate it.
There was also a full itinerary of events from Friday through to Sunday in Gort’s various hostelries and the 2009 Rí Rá festival was formally brought to an end with the Peasants Banquet in the community centre held by King Guaire to honour his loyal subjects.
“ABBAesque were excellent with a full dance floor all night and superb food,” Austin recalled.
The festival discount scheme, which ran throughout the town over the weekend, was deemed successful by organisers, with many shoppers availing of the generous reductions provided.
The work of the Gort guild of the ICA in providing refreshments each morning did not go unnoticed by festival organisers.
“The ladies of Gort’s ICA came up trumps with a much needed tea and coffee morning each day of the festival and were most helpful throughout and before the festival,” Austin stated.
“The organisers are very grateful to everyone who helped organise events, donated funds, sponsored prizes and attended events. There are some people who sacrificed their valuable time and funds to make this festival work and they know who they are,” he added.
The festival could run again next year, Austin believes, with greater involvement from the community.
“I hope this event can be held again next year and that any errors made can now be learned from and remedied, that successful events can be improved on further, that new ideas can be worked on and maybe the rain will finally go away,” he said.
“The RiVibe Youthfest in particular has huge potential and looks certain to be regular feature on Gort’s calendar. The festival’s purpose was to promote the town of Gort, its facilities, people and businesses and I believe that this was achieved but next year in order to make a festival successful, more business owners and residents will have to get involved, not solely financially but by participating and attending.
“The festival is as much about community as anything. The positive feedback from the general public is proving to be excellent motivation for the tired organisers this week,” Austin concluded.
Organisers are asking anyone with interesting pictures to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.