THE women behind the National and European Ploughing Championship declared the event "recession proof" yesterday.
In a bold statement given the economic downturn, National Ploughing Association managing director Anna May McHugh said the event would be a roaring success this year.
"It will be better than ever; it looks like it is recession proof," she said at the launch of this year's event, which takes place from September 21 to 23 in Athy, Co Kildare.
"There are 1,136 exhibitors already booked in and even this morning there were people still ringing looking for space. It's the biggest ever," she said.
Firms such as McElhinny's of Athboy, which was only recently rescued from liquidation, are taking a spot at the event as well as master tailor Louis Copeland, who is sponsoring the Most Appropriately Dressed competition along with new sponsor Littlewoods.
Ms McHugh was joined at the launch in Cardenton, Athy, by Agriculture Minister Brendan Smith and the president of the National Ploughing Association, Eddie Halley.
Eamon Fannin, one of the farmers on whose land the event will take place, was enthusiastic about the rain.
"A damp week this week will make it better for the ploughing," he said.
The Fox family, on whose land the cars were parked last year, will host the European Reversible Ploughing Contest for the first time in Ireland, with 26 competitors from 13 countries taking part.
Athy was chosen as the venue for the second year in a row due to its success last year, but the Fox land was the site of the first intercounty competition here in 1931.
Jim Fox said that there were ridges on his land left from when his grandfather practised for ploughing competitions more than 100 years ago.
The return to Athy is attributed to the success particularly with traffic management last year and a large contingent of gardai wason hand yesterday to explain their plans for getting punters to and from the site at Cardenton.
The biggest event in rural Ireland will take up over 200 acres for ploughing and 80 acres in trade stands.