NEVER mind the horses! - Listowel couldn't get enough of pig racing this week.
It mighn't sound like the most edifying event, but pig racing drew a massive crowd out onto Market Street on Thursday night to witness a first ever for the Harvet Festival.
People jostled through the throng just to catch a glimpse of the hilarious spectacle as the pigs raced back Market Street with teddy bear jockeys. With Dominic Scanlon providing the commentary and special totes set up to for anybody who fancied to back the bacon, it turned into one of the best events of the Harvest Festival, which provides the onstreet entertainment during the week of the Races.
"The pig racing was definitely the highlight. The crowds on Market Street were unreal and six-deep in most places," organiser and publican Christy Walsh said. "We were delighted with how the Harvest Festival went and Friday night definitely saw the biggest crowds in town, what with the attendance at the races being over 27,000," Christy said.
The Harvest Festival kicked off on Tuesday night with the annual charity football match, involving big racing names like Barry Geraghty and Niall ' Slippers' Madden. And local talent like Noel Kennelly, Robert Bunyan, Maurice ' Kempes' Kelliher and dentist Sean Moriarty getting in on the action, it was always going to be a big showdown. Throw in Christy as ref and MC Billy Keane giving a blowby-blow commentary and it's not hard to imagine just how well it did go down with the many spectators. The charity football raised € 1,000 for Pieta House in the few short hours the event was held.
Thursday night saw another great favourite on Market Street - the barmen's beer-carrying and wheelie bin races! It might not have had the novelty value of pigs running around madly with teddy bear jockeys on their backs, but it provided just as many belly laughs for the great crowd of onlookers.
And Friday turned into a night for our Clare neighbours from over the estuary as the Cooraclare Wren took the national title in the All- Ireland Wrenboys competition. "It was massive and congratulations to Cooraclare. The crowd in for it was unreal and we were also delighted to have had the juvenile Kerry Fleadh Cheoil winners performing during the adjudication, they were magnificent and showed what fantastic talent there is in the county," said Christy.
More fantastic talent from the county brought the Harvest to a close as the O'Neill sisters of Causeway sang out the week in their first-time performing for the races. "They were brilliant and brought an end to a fantastic week for Listowel, one we were very happy with."
The committee is this week canvassing local business for its help towards the €16,000 it costs to run the Harvest Festival.