Record-breaking 81,000 people flock to first day of the Ploughing
THEY came from far and wide.
SOME 81,000 people flocked to the first day of the National Ploughing Championships today, a record attendance for the Championships.
The town of Ratheniska, Co Laois has been transformed into an agricultural hub, with tens of thousands of people making their way there without a hitch.
While the debut of robotic milking machines are undoubtedly the highlight for farmers on site, many have come to the area simply to soak up the atmosphere.
With everything from welly throwing, sheep shearing and the opportunity to shop 'til you drop on offer, families have flocked here in their thousands.
More than 80pc of visitors at the ploughing championships have travelled from all over Ireland and Europe to Ratheniska.
As usual, this is an opportunity for politicians to canvas with Minister for Environment Phil Hogan in attendance today, while Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney is lined up for tomorrow and Taoiseach Enda Kenny planning to visit on Thursday.
On a more stylish note, Celia Holman Lee hosted three separate fashion shows today on the main stage, featuring her models wearing designs from local boutiques.
And a radiant looking Rita Talty joined her husband of one year Daithi O Se as he filmed his afternoon show Today, with Maura Derrane.
The ploughing championships have become a unique showcase for Irish businesses to promote their work, whether it be food, craft or design.
Celebrity chefs Neven Maguire, Phelim Byrne and winner of 'Celebrity Masterchef, athlete David Gillick, all are hosting cookery demonstrations while Paul Flynn held court at the Lidl tent.