Riverfest bonanza worth €5.5m to Limerick

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Gemma Pratt and Kayla Katilius, staff at Smyths Bar, celebrate the 10th annual Riverfest, May 2-5
Gemma Pratt and Kayla Katilius, staff at Smyths Bar, celebrate the 10th annual Riverfest, May 2-5   Photo: Alan Place

LIMERICK will host Ireland’s biggest May bank holiday family festival with the city braced cheerfully for 50,000 visitors for  the tenth annual Riverfest, May 2 to 5.

“Foodies, fun seekers and fun runners” will all be catered for as the four-day event is set to be our largest ever, chiming with National City of Culture expectations.

Entries are up 25 per cent for the Coors Light BBQ Competition centrepiece, international again. Teams are flying in from North America to compete and chef Clodagh McKenna will co-judge as well as give a BBQ demonstration herself.

New sponsors such as Musgrave MarketPlace aid this expansion.

Riverfest media launch was held this Tuesday at Smyths Bar at the Market Quarter, key hub to activity, led by Fran O’Donnell of Futureama Productions  for Limerick Marketing Company, represented by Eoghan Prendergast.

Bluegrass and barbecue set the theme.

The festival is injecting an estimated €5.5million into the local economy utilising comedy, competitions, gospel choirs and the Cook Off to magnetise bednights. Favourite pillars such as Barrington’s Hospital Great Limerick Run and the Continental Fair of artisan producers  are key, as well as Fashion Friday, the  outdoor show enlivened by the sway of Savoy Jazz Swingtett on Thomas Street later.

Alliance Francaise’s Tres Courts International Film Festival will be located in Limerick (69 O’Connell Street) for the first time also for the May weekend. Greyhound and curragh racing respond to sporting interests.

Riverfest Fireworks Spectacular goes bang on  Saturday 3, following on from  Limerick Craft Fair and Soap Box Derby. Fidget Feet is a new event, an aerial performance of a boat lifted 50 feet over the river and rowed through they sky; an aerialist mermaid will trail glamour.

Monday 5 fills out with The Bartender’s Run, “the most fun I’ve ever had with three glasses of water!” reported Fran O’Donnell, and worthy of support chasing through the town.

Limerick City Challenge sees teams of two race around to complete a variety of dares, culminating in “an enigmatic final challenge on the boardwalk at Howley’s Quay, a sort of treasure hunt with The Cube”. Agri-aid agency Bóthar’s Rwandan creamery project will benefit.

Kieran Lehane of Limerick Local Authorities, stakeholder with Paddie O'Kelly of Limerick City Challenge at the Smyths Bar launch
Kieran Lehane of Limerick Local Authorities, stakeholder with Paddie O’Kelly of Limerick City Challenge at the Smyths Bar launch Photo: Alan Place

 

Fun for families will be enhanced  by a novel Kids’ Zone at the top of Thomas Street on Saturday 3. Children can look forward also to a mobile planetarium, Mad Hatters street theatre and music by Torann Drummers, Abbesque and Garth Brooks Roadshow cowboys.

Arthur’s Quay rings out with Irish traditional sounds by Sharon Shannon and her guests. These number Limerick’s Johnny Fean of Horslips fame with his Fean & Travers duet with Steve Travers and the all-girl celtic Liadan playing out the weekend from 2pm to 6pm.

For grown ups, bar exemptions and live music in venues from Smyths to Dolan’s, by bands such as glamrockers Alvin Purple Experience, keep the party live.

Mayor Kathleen Leddin congratulated all stakeholders, noting the city was justifiably proud of what has been achieved. The local business perspective is especially appreciative with Ivan Tuohy of Limerick Hotels Association pointing out, “We have seen it grow over the years from just a Saturday night stay to Friday and Sunday,”