The Caledon Village Georgian Festival
By ELEANOR MCGILLIE 9 October, 2016
A RURAL County Tyrone community literally took a step back in time last weekend to celebrate all things Georgian at the first ever Caledon Village Georgian Festival. We were delighted to be involved in organising this event which attracted around 3,000 people.
We all know that tourism in Northern Ireland is a key to our economic growth. Every single tourism provider makes their mark so it’s important to help and support these businesses as much as possible.
That’s why, at the first ever Caledon Village Georgian Festival we decided to keep it as local as local can be.
The event was also used to showcase how a community of this size can pull together to organise an absolutely fantastic tourism event.
Around 3,000 people gathered near the banks of the River Blackwater to take part in the Caledon Village Georgian Festival – an event which was officially opened by The Earl of Caledon KCVO, local people and visitors.
Speaking at the event, Lord Caledon, said: “When I was first informed about the festival I thought it was a wonderful idea. The purpose of the festival is to help the village celebrate its natural and built heritage and also celebrate the people living and working locally, who contribute to the economy of the village and surrounding areas.
“Caledon is a village which is steeped in history but there is a lot of new growth in the village. Many young families are moving here and their children are attending our playgroup and our two primary schools. New businesses are operating from the village and new homes are being built.
“Steeped in historical context, Caledon village now has a growing population. Here, and, in the surrounding areas, there is a wealth of small and large rural businesses ranging from equestrian, agriculture, arts and crafts, media and PR, food and drink, experiential tourism led businesses, retail and more.
“The festival is about bringing all of these people together and using their skills to celebrate our village and celebrate everyone’s contribution to the community.”
Lord Caledon added: “This year is the year of food and drink in Northern Ireland and the courtyard behind this building is a demonstration of what can be achieved by food and drink producers.
Along with marquees for arts, crafts and children’s activities, crowds enjoyed a walled food and drink courtyard.
Food and drink producers from Northern Ireland attending included Mac Ivors Cider Co, Digby’s Bar & Restaurant, Bellingham Cheese, Papa’s Cordials, Burren Balsamic, The National Trust, The Fluffy Meringue, Long Lane Pantry, vegetable farmer Henry Halligan and Glaslough Chocolate Company.
Speaking about the success of the festival, Sandra Mortimer from the Caledon Regeneration Partnership said: “We have raised £2,775 which means our two schools and playgroup each benefit from £925 which will help educate the children in our village. Over £700 was raised in Pam Morrow’s Vintage Tearoom which will be used to help maintain the village church hall.
“Caledon has a fantastic community. From a tourism perspective, we were delighted to welcome so many new people to the village. From an economic perspective, we are delighted with feedback from local traders in the village, and from food and drink producers, who mostly sold out of their products during the festival.”
A big thank you goes to Caledon Estates, Digby’s Bar & Restaurant, Castle Leslie Estate, Tyrone Fuels, Donnelly Group and Pam Morrow at the village shop for all of the prizes.
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