Experience the sights and sounds of war camps at NI Countrysports Fair
By ELEANOR MCGILLIE 14 May, 2019
The NI Countrysports Fair takes place on May 25 & 26. Over 20,000 people attend this annual two day event which showcases food and drink, cookery demonstrations, country music, country living and arts and crafts. Adding drama to the event will be the Wartime Living History Association and Vietnam’s Wild Geese. Eleanor McGillie reports
A GROUP of World War II enthusiasts will attend the NI Countrysports Fair at Scarva to recreate the sights, sounds and smells of American and German war camps as a mark of respect to all soldiers who fought during Second World War.
The Ballymena based Wartime Living History Association, which is made up of over 30 enthusiasts from across Northern Ireland, will set up German and American camps on the 340 acres site at Scarvagh House outside Banbridge.
The group, who’s Honorary President is Teddy Dixon who liberated Dachau Concentration Camp, will bring along its display of uniforms, weaponry and will engage in storytelling from the war era.
James Duffin, a member of the association, said: “Over 15 years ago, a group of people managed to find each other through the military vehicle scene here in Northern Ireland. We all share a passion for all things World War II be that uniforms, sharing stories of grandparents who served in the war or weaponry.
“We are like a mobile museum in that we travel around with uniforms and weapons and we put on re-enactments at events and schools. As well as that the public attending events can get involved by trying on uniforms and holding weapons.
“During the NI Countrysports Fair we will be setting up German and American camps so people can experience the sights, sounds and smells of the camps.
“We will also be doing a Fire Power Demonstration in the main arena which will include the firing of rifles, pistols, mortars and bazookas.
“We are also hoping that people attending the NI Countrysports Fair will be able to tell us some of their stories of the war. We look forward to sharing our stories, putting families through drills and marches, people can hold weapons and try on uniforms.”
Also demonstrating at the NI Countrysports Fair is Vietnam’s Wild Geese – a Northern Ireland based Vietnam War Living History group.
The group aims to pay tribute to the 2,000 native born Irish immigrants from the whole island that fought for the US, Australian and New Zealand Forces (‘Free World Forces’) in the War. Of those 26 paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The group display a range of military roles that ‘Free World Forces’ carried out in the Vietnam War. These include: The Australian Army Training Team Vietnam, US Special Forces Training Teams, US Army Military Police, US Airforce Security Police and US Army Padre Corps!
As well as wearing authentic uniforms from the War the group displays an authentic range of field equipment, radios and weapons.
Visit their display where they will tell you about the people who served, the conditions they endured and the equipment and weapons they used.
The re-enactments will take place at the NI Countrysports Fair on May 25 & 26.
NI Countrysports Fairs is supported by Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council as well as DAERA NI Regional Food Programme.