Successful festival still growing 39 years on

Last year's Markethill Festival opening night.  Fancy Dress entrants in the P1 to P4 group.  INPT3114-410
Last year's Markethill Festival opening night. Fancy Dress entrants in the P1 to P4 group. INPT3114-410

Markethill Community Festival kicks off next Thursday, and it’s promising to be another great event with a packed itinerary of activities for all ages.

What began as a two-day festival in 1977 to mark the Queen’s silver jubilee has grown over the years to become a three-week-long, cross-community celebration.

Treasurer Betty Stewart explained that local people are encouraged to suggest activities, hence the growing list of attractions.

New to the festival this year is a floral art demonstration by James Murray of Floral Expressions in Keady, which will take place on Tuesday, August 11 at 8pm.

Pupils of Markethill High School and St Patrick’s High School, Keady, have also been getting in on the act this year, submitting more than 100 entries for the art competition.

A recent but very popular newcomer to the festival is the five-a-side football tournament, which began last year and sees teams battling it out in a knockout- style competition.

The fun run always attracts lots of participants and the overall winner will be presented with the Robin Dalzell Cup. Robin, who died three years ago, was one of the founders of the festival and worked tirelessly its chairman right down the years.

The fun run is followed by the fancy dress festival, with Mullabrack Accordion Band - and members resplendent in fancy dress - leading the entrants down the street to the judging arena.

For those who don’t mind getting wet, the It’s a Knockout competition, organised by Collone Young Farmers, is always a big draw.

The pet show is another firm favourite as are the Junior Miss and Master Markethill contests.

And following on from its success last year, the Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook evening will be presented by Daphne McCammon on Tuesday, August 4, with two men also having their culinary skills put to the test.

The cookery competition is also making a welcome return with contestants invited to submit fruit scones, a butter sandwich, soda farls, pancakes and cup cakes for some taste testing.

As in previous years, a range of charities will benefit from the festival. They include the Children’s Heartbeat Trust; Daisy Lodge, Newcastle; Kingham Mission for the Deaf; NI Chest Heart and Stroke Association; Southern Area Hospice; St John’s Ambulance, to name but a few.

Betty is assisted on the committee by chairman Victor Houston and secretary Patricia Hughes, former principal of St James’s PS, Mullabrack.

She said, “There is so much to enjoy at the festival. We want to see lots of people coming out to support it.”

Anyone who wishes to volunteer or help out in any way should phone Betty on 07912883943 or call at her home, 84 Gosford Road, or call Victor Houston on 07707694766.