NI Potato Festival back for the third consecutive year

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The Ulster Farmer’s Union is encouraging potato producers, family and friends to come along to the Northern Ireland Potato Festival and promote the humble spud.

This year’s festival will take place over three days, from the 1 October – 3 October. With free admission to all festival events, this is an excellent opportunity to learn more about one of Ireland’s staple foods, the potato.

Launch of Northern Ireland Potato Festival at the Giants Causeway. Committee members Michael McKillop, Mark McCurdy, Sandra Hunter and Noreen Jamison.

Launch of Northern Ireland Potato Festival at the Giants Causeway. Committee members Michael McKillop, Mark McCurdy, Sandra Hunter and Noreen Jamison.

Now in its third year the Northern Ireland Potato Festival was formed to celebrate the modest potato. The festival will comprise of a large number of events, with the main festival event scheduled to be held on Saturday 3 October from 10am – 5pm. This year the festival site is located in front of the Causeway Hotel and its adjacent fields. Saturday will entail a National Trust open day with visitors offered free access to the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre along with a variety of family events taking place during the day, including: cookery demonstrations, celebrity chefs, food stands, helicopter flights, children’s activities and rides, craft demonstrations and lots more.

In advance of the festival the UFU would like to raise awareness of an upcoming guided tour of ChipMaster, one of Northern Ireland’s leading growers and producers of potatoes. The local potato company based in Broughshane, Ballymena is owned by UFU potato committee member, Ian McMaster.

On Friday, October 2, Ian will provide a guided tour of this business, providing insights into how his potato production is managed all year round. This event will form part of the Northern Ireland Potato Festival. Since 2000 Ian has been developing his business alongside his wife Laura and son Robert. At present their potato enterprise involves the growing of 40ha of potatoes annually. These are processed through the on farm diversification business.

Currently ChipMaster supplies over 1600 tonnes of processed potatoes grown on the farm and another 900 tonnes of bought in potatoes. The potato and vegetable products go directly to local chip shops and restaurants, meaning Ian’s potato crop is grown, processed and consumed within a 50 mile radius. The event will begin at 11am with a light lunch provided free of charge for visitors. To attend you must register your interest in advance, for further details on how to register please see www.potatoni.com or call 077 5909 2927.

In addition to these events on 1 October features of the Giant’s Causeway will be lit at night and three guided tours will take place from 7pm, with last admission at 9.30pm. This forms both part of the festival and part of the UNESCO International Year of Light. Those attending are welcome to walk down to the stones by themselves and are encouraged to bring their own torch.

Following positive evaluation and feedback from the previous two years the Ulster Farmers’ Union and Northern Ireland Potato Festival Committee are hoping for a good turn out to support this excellent family event of which sponsorship plays a key role. UFU would like to thank the festival’s supporters for their continued help with funding for this project. UFU are encouraged by the level of growing support for the festival year on year. Without funding from local businesses and the wider industry the festival would not be made possible.