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Visitors in full Bloom as 110,000 fill park to smash festival record

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Denise Mooney, left, and Elaine McManus, from Castleblaney, Co Monaghan

Denise Mooney, left, and Elaine McManus, from Castleblaney, Co Monaghan

Ewan Armstrong (4), from Wicklow, with his brothers Aaron (6) and Craig (5) at Bloom

Ewan Armstrong (4), from Wicklow, with his brothers Aaron (6) and Craig (5) at Bloom

Helen McQuaid, from Newbridge and Zoe Lipson, from Kilcock

Helen McQuaid, from Newbridge and Zoe Lipson, from Kilcock

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Denise Mooney, left, and Elaine McManus, from Castleblaney, Co Monaghan

VISITOR numbers at this year's Bloom festival have smashed all previous records.

Some 110,000 made the trip to Dublin's Phoenix Park over the weekend – smashing the record of 90,000 visitors.

Organised by Bord Bia, the show's attendance has more than doubled in size since the inaugural event in 2007.

Artisans, exhibitors and garden designers all reported a surge in onsite sales.

Aidan Cotter, chief executive of Bord Bia, said: "Bloom 2013 has been a hugely successful show, our best to date according to feedback.

"It is now a well-established showcase for the talent, diversity and capability of the Irish food and horticulture sector and its capacity to contribute to economic recovery."

As well as the sales and business conducted during Bloom, Bord Bia also brought buyers from key retail outlets including Tesco, Dunnes, Musgraves and Lidl to meet artisan food producers exhibiting at the show.

VIP visitors during the weekend included, President Michael D Higgins and First Lady Sabina, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin.

Show garden designers Michael Carroll and Kevin Dennis, whose 'Riverside Calm' garden won a silver gilt medal, said they had seen "huge interest" in their garden.

COMMISSIONS

"Bloom has been a great experience for us. We have secured in the region of 30-strong leads and commissions."

Alan Rudden and David Ryan from Gardens Now estimate they've lined up a minimum of €80,000 worth of business through their presence at Bloom 2013.

Kildare Growers also reported its plants sales had surpassed the €100,000 mark during the final day of the show.

Gary Graham, Bloom show manager, Bord Bia, said: "Bloom is the most important event in the horticulture calendar – a total of almost 2,000 people worked onsite during the build-up and throughout the weekend."

On the first day of the show, the international judging panel awarded a total of 95 medals, compared to 81 in 2012, to garden designers, nurseries and floral artists.

The Overall Large Garden Category Award went to Waterford-based designer Gerard Mullen for his 'Waterford Harvest – Venture into the Wild' garden, inspired by the wetland wild habitat near the Comeragh Mountains.

On Sunday evening, he also received the Designers Choice Award, a much sought-after accolade where the Bloom show garden designers vote for their favourite garden.

The final award of Bloom 2013, the People's Choice Award, was yesterday presented to The Hospice Garden – 'Journey on Earth' designed by Eileen Nolan, Dr Mary Toomey and Adrian Eggers.

The winner is voted for by visitors over the five days of the show.

The Quality Kitchen Stage in the heart of Bord Bia's Food Village hosted live cookery demonstrations from celebrity chefs including Neven Maguire, Catherine Fulvio and Donal Skehan who were joined by Quality Kitchen ambassadors Hector O hEochagain, Yvonne Keating, David Wallace and Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain.

Next year's Bloom will run from Thursday, May 29 to Monday, June 2, 2014.

mlavery@herald.ie


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