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Pucker fair: random acts of kindness prove big hit

THEY say that simple ideas are the most effective.

A festival in west Cork with an admission fee of just a smile and an act of kindness has captured the imagination of all-comers.

The organisers of Clonakilty's Random Act of Kindness Festival said yesterday they had been taken aback by the response to their idea for a low-cost event aimed at fostering positivity.

"We were hoping for some kind of small chain reaction but the response has been absolutely incredible," organiser Ger O'Donovan said.

The event -- the brainchild of Macra na Feirme and Clonakilty Youth Club members -- was born of a near-zero budget, no major corporate sponsors and no admission fees. It started yesterday and runs until tomorrow.

"The idea is for people to receive a random act of kindness on the street. It could be a cinema ticket or a token for a coffee. But they get a card asking them, in return, to undertake an act of kindness for someone else," organisers John and Theresa O'Leary explained.

Cards distributed with every festival gift and token tell revellers: "Now it's your turn to pay it forward."

The organisers said they knew they were on to a winner when the first poster was distributed. "The reason the concept has caught attention is that it reminds everyone our greatest natural resource in Ireland is our people -- and you don't need to spend huge amounts of money to enjoy yourself.," Mr O'Donovan added.

As soon as plans for the festival were announced, three bands -- Re Nua, The BPositives and StanZa Traffic -- donated their performances for free.

Swarms of volunteers agreed to provide face-painting, bubble displays, street theatre, historical walks and music.

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