62,000 people attend final day of Ploughing Championships after 'difficult week' for organisers

61,700 people attended the final day of the National Ploughing Championships today in Screggan, Co Offaly.

That brings the total attendance for the week to 240,700, 50,000 less than last year.

Organisers of the Championships said opening today has been a bit surreal as an extra day was added after the farming festival was cancelled on Wednesday because of Storm Ali.

Opening today is estimated to cost the National Ploughing Association more than a million euro.

Deputy Managing Director Anna Marie McHugh said it had been a very difficult week following the bad weather.

"Yes, it's been difficult. It's been as difficult as I've had it in my professional career anyway," she said.

"I genuinely think we did what we could when we could...everything we did we can account for 100%.

"It’s a lot quieter on site today which was expected.

"Last year's total attendance at the Ploughing was 291,500 but this years definitely won't hit that."

Trevor Richardson from Atkins Farm Machinery in Cork says business has been slow so far today.

Very very quiet. Other than today obviously Tuesday was very good, not as good as last year though.

"We're vulnerable with the weather a lot of the time so we can't always count on it.

"It was a good call to cancel for health and safety reasons but it should have been done on Tuesday night."

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was in attendance today after arriving back in Ireland after attending Brexit meetings in Salzburg.

The National Ploughing Association was due to announce where next year’s farming festival will be held at the close of business today.

However, after Carlow TD Pat Deering indicated yesterday that it was due to be held in Carlow – no announcement is going to be made today with organisers saying a number of counties are still in the mix.

Business is slow on the bonus morning of the National Ploughing Championships

Latest: The National Ploughing Championships are open for business this morning to make up for being called off on Wednesday.

It was the first time in the event’s history that a day had to be cancelled mid-Championships.

Most of the exhibitions are open at the Screggan site in Co Offaly today.

Trevor Richardson from Atkins Farm Machinery in Cork said business has been slow so far.

"I haven't spoken to one customer...It's a pity that it's very, very quiet. Hopefully it will pick up in the afternoon."

Earlier: The Taoiseach is set to attend today’s National Ploughing Championships in Co Offaly.

The farming festival is opening for an extra day after being called off on Wednesday because of the weather.

It has been an unprecedented week for the National Ploughing Championships which are in their 87th year.

The event is due to open from 9am to make up for it being cancelled on Wednesday because of Storm Ali.

The rain comes down on the third day of the National Ploughing Championships at Screggan, Tullamore, Co Offaly. Picture Dan Linehan

Yesterday’s turnout was 81,500 – down quite a bit from Tuesday’s figure of 97,500.

It’s up to the 1,700 exhibitors if they are want to open today.

The National Ploughing Association says most of them are - only about 20 to 30 of them are not because of prior commitments while others have to stay closed after being damaged.

It is thought the NPA will lose about €1m because of the extra day and the Association says today is not about profits but about giving the exhibitors a third day of business and giving people another chance to attend the event.

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