Anna May McHugh from the National Ploughing Association has said she is “cautiously optimistic” that they can hold this year’s event in Ratheniska in September.
The four-day world championship event is scheduled to return to the Laois venue from September 15-18 on what is the association’s 90th anniversary.
“At the moment I am cautiously optimistic. We still hope to be able to hold it,” she said this afternoon while speaking on a Laois Chamber of Commerce virtual event.
“We have to be guided by the Government and will take no risks but we all hope it will happen.”
She added that a decision will be made in May by the ploughing association’s world board and the NPA based in Laois.
Anna May was the guest speaker at the virtual event which was hosted by Laois Chamber CEO Bernie Everard.
She chatted about how she first became involved with the ploughing organisation back in 1956 and later became secretary of the association when it became a limited company.
“It had humble beginnings. It was all competitions and it was only attended by men – probably just one or two ladies.”
And she described how she had “think outside the box” to increase attendance with a fashion show introduced in 1984, something that initially met with resistance but had the desired effect of encouraging more women and children to attend and thus attract not just more supporters but also more exhibitors.
Most recently it has drawn an attendance of almost 300,000 over three days as well as over 1,700 exhibitors.
She said that having to cancel last year’s event due to the Coronavirus restrictions was very disappointing but that all involved were very understanding.
Addressing the members of the Chamber of Commerce, she said she understood that it has been a challenging time for all businesses but her advice was simple: “Don’t Quit.”
“If we survived the last 12 months, we can survive now. The best news on the airwaves has been the arrival of the vaccine,” she said, adding that she herself hopes to get her “first jab in the next fortnight”.
“We all have talents and ideas and we have to be resilient and positive. The end line is in sight. There is great team work and good will out there. Do what you have to promote your business and please god we’ll all be back in business sooner rather than later.
“Businesses have endured a lot of hardship but we have to stay positive.”