17th Annual Community Threshing Festival Sunday August 25, 2019

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Preparations for this year’s Community Threshing Festival at The Black Bull, Sharavogue, Birr, which takes place on Sunday next August 25, are well underway. As always it promises to be a fantastic day out with attractions to suit all the family both young and old. Admission is €5 for adults and children go free.

Over the past 17 years the Threshing Festival has grown from strength to strength. The key to the survival of the festival has been the incredible commitment of individuals and groups in the community. This year funds raised will go towards Kilcolman Parish Community Development Project. The festival also supports other local causes.

We will have our usual attractions on the day including old time threshing, vintage displays, pony and trap rides, auction, sheaf pitching, pillow fighting, dart throwing, music stage with set dancers, visiting ceili bands and world champion figure dancers and other local entertainers. The ever-popular home produce and craft stalls are back where you can purchase some wonderful homemade goods. As always, we will have our dog show with numerous 15 classes suitable for all types of dogs (costumes welcome!). Be creative and artistic and present your dog as a 101 dalmation lookalike. Entrants can register on the day at the dog ring from 1pm.

Rekindle childhood memories when you visit the thatched house with haggard and live farmyard animals. Try your luck with the lucky mouse, the lucky dip stall or horseshoe throwing, bowling or hang tough bar to mention just a few.

There will have a range of great value, excellent catering onsite to suit all tastes, including the traditional tea rooms, BBQ burgers, Griddle Bread, Pancakes and Old-style Colcannon.

As always there will be a comprehensive vintage display of tractors, cars, trucks, stationary engines, farm tools and implements. There will be demonstrations of butter making, griddle bread, colcannon making. Anyone can bring items for the Vintage display and must sign in and pay registration fee in the field before 12 noon on the day. There will be prizes for Best Tractor, Best Classic Car and Best Static Exhibit. All registered entries will receive a specially commissioned plaque and refreshments.

Vintage Entries - €5 per vehicle (admits one driver only).

To start the year, we had a float in The Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival Parade, where we depicted a re-enactment of the auction scene from The Field. Great fun and entertainment was provided throughout the day. Thanks to all involved in making the float possible. In preparation for the festival we had the cutting of the corn with tractor drawn binders on a sunny summer’s evening. The committee would like to thank the Dempsey family of The Leap who supply the corn each year without which the event wouldn’t be possible. Thanks also to Jim O’Meara and family for the wonderfully restored binders.

The committee would like to thank all who continue to make the Threshing Festival a success each year, notably our loyal sponsors, our landowners the Malone and Hayden families and our volunteers who come out each year to play their part. Thanks also to those who come and support the festival in such vast numbers each year.

Festivals like Black Bull provide us with nostalgic and romantic pictures of the threshing days of yesteryear. Back in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s cash crops were the backbone of many households such as wheat, oats and barley. Flax, potatoes and the Christmas turkeys were also one of the mainstays. Threshing time and harvest time were important times in the farming calendar. In some cases they meant survival through another winter, food for livestock and maybe that extra bob or two for some of the little luxuries in life. The five barley loaves mentioned in the gospels were as important then as they are today. The harvesting of grain right around the world is a perennial labour essential for human survival.

Fields of corn stooked and ready for stacking were a common sight around the country in the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s. Many stories are told about the youthful frolics of harvest time, the process of certain mowers with the scythe and the subsequent separation of the grain and the straw at the threshing. For centuries the threshing was done using a flail, which was two pieces of sturdy timber about one metre long joined together with leather loops. With the discovery of steam power and the invention of the threshing mill, the flail and hand threshing slowly fell into decline. The barn loft where the threshing was carried out became a social centre. People assembled for music and dancing.

So why not join us at the Black Bull on Sunday August 25 for a great fun day for all the family. Admission is just €5 for adults while kids go free. Free ample parking on site. For more information find us on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/BlackBullFestival/

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