have operatic crooner, Peter Corry, the National Country Sports Fair at Moira
and the Country Lifestyle Festival at Shane's Castle got to do with each other?
Answer - the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards and a gala evening of
entertainment that definitely hit the spot!
The great and the good of tourism and hospitality in Northern Ireland were out
in their droves at the Tourism Awards ceremony and, as it happened, both the
Country Lifestyle Festival and the National Country Sports Fair were nominated
for a marketing award. Ever-confident, the experienced team behind the Shane's
Castle Festival of the Titteringtons, the McClellands and Dickey, had two
tables at the event. As for the National Country Sports Fair, Bill Beckett and
company were noticeably absent.
Now, as someone who's moved from writing within the country sports press to
writing in the Northern Ireland business and tourism press, I know for a fact
that the identity of the winners was a closely guarded secret. No-one had
advance knowledge. Nevertheless, confidence paid off, as the Country Lifestyle
Festival, which the judges described as a superlative example of focused,
knowledgeable and effective marketing, picked up the ultimate accolade for
Marketing Excellence, clearly establishing this Festival as the best of its
kind in Northern Ireland.
Didn't I say that the entertainment 'hit the spot'? Well, after a glorious half
hour of singing from West End star performer, Peter Corry, we were told that
his band would be displaying 'wicked humour' in its choice of music to herald
each winner. The choice couldn't have been better for the battle for supremacy
on the country sports event front. As Michael Dickey, Hon Chairman of the
Country Lifestyle Festival mounted the stage to receive his award, the band
most certainly hit the nail on the head with a rousing rendition of 'Anything
you can do, I can do better'! Need I say more!
The NITB bmi Marketing Excellence Award was Sponsored by Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau):
Winner: Irish Country Lifestyle Festival, Antrim
Fermanagh Tourist Information Centre, Enniskillen
National Country Sports Fair, Moira
Countrysports Director: John Mc Clelland with the Trophy, Ally Mc Clelland
(Medieval Director), Mike Dickey ( Hon. Chairman) and Paul Robinson (Sales and
Marketing) with some of the Festival guests at the Gala Dinner.
Some Quotes On the Festival award:
Jim Wilson ( MLA South Antrim)
"For some time now Lough Neagh has been considered to be one of the most
under-rated attractions of Northern Ireland and the efforts made by the
organisers of the Irish Country Lifestyle Festival to put it firmly on
thetourist map are to be applauded.
Anyone who attended the Festival last year will have already seen how
innovative and skilful marketing can affect the success of a venture like this
one, and whilst there is always an element of surprise when competing with the
best in a shortlist for an NITB award, I think few would doubt that this one
was well deserved.
There will be even more in store at the Festival this year and with this award
safely tucked under their belt I have no doubt the organisers will be putting
their best foot forward to produce an event that will showcase not only Lough
Neagh and Antrim but the whole rural way of life."
Countryside Alliance Ireland were represented at the event by Board members
Jim Wilson MLA and John Clarke. John Clarke said afterwards,"
Countryside Alliance Ireland would wish to warmly congratulate Michael, John,
Albert and all the team on winning this prestigious award. We recognise the
hard work and dedication put in by the team to make the Country Lifestyle
Festival such a success and it is a delight to see this work rewarded. We
wouldlike to wish the team every success in the future and we applaud them for
all they are doing in the interest of Country Sports and the Country way of
life not just with this Festival, but in many other ways".
Congratulating Festival organizers on their award John Drummond
from main event sponsors Junction One said: "As Northern Ireland's first
international outlet centre we are delighted to partner such a distinctive
event so close to our shopping centre and this marketing award is certainly
well deserved. The sponsorship is a significant boost to Junction One's profile
and brings a new dynamic to tourism in the Antrim area."
The Mayor of Antrim, Councillor Bobby Loughran commented: "
Antrim Borough Council is delighted that the Country Lifestyle Festival has won
the NITB Tourism Award for Marketing Execellence. Major events such as this
make a huge contribution to raising the profile of Antrim Borough as a premier
tourist destination throughout the island of Ireland and also on the
international stage. The Council is pleased to be able to support the 2005
Country Lifestyle Festival here again in Antrim in June - it promises to be
even more spectacular than last year with the addition of a Lough Neagh
Festival to the programme."
John Mc Clelland Director of Countrysports at the Festival said
; " We consider that this award clearly establishes our event as the top
countrysports event in Northern Ireland. But of course whilst we consider we do
have the widest range of activities to interest the most discerning of the
hunting, shooting and fishing enthusiasts, our event is not just aimed at the
traditional Game Fair attendance.
In addition to the traditional Game Fair attractions we have an extensive range
of additional attractions including a huge medieval village with top performers
from all over the UK ( full armour jousting; long bow archery, a team with
muzzleloading cannon plus musicians, jugglers, medieval cookery etc); added to
this is the Lough Neagh Festival with a spectacular simulated rescue, a
regatta, the Lough Neagh Fine Food and Craft Festival; the Countrysports and
Conservation Pavilion and the NI Angling Show; plus a children's learning and
education area; an equestrian and carriage driving show and a huge tented
village of trade stands."