Derby festival on track despite poor AGM turnout

THERE was a dreadful turnout at the Kildare Derby Festival AGM last week but festival chairman Ollie Kearns is determined to forge ahead with the event despite the lack of support.

THERE was a dreadful turnout at the Kildare Derby Festival AGM last week but festival chairman Ollie Kearns is determined to forge ahead with the event despite the lack of support.

“We had four members of the committee there, as well as Evan Arkwright representing the Curragh racecourse, John Osborne from the National Stud and the soccer club. We had no one from the business community or any other organisation in Kildare town. It is disappointing. Notices went out. Maybe it is because they are happy with what we are doing, or maybe they just don’t give a damn. We’ve decided to go ahead with it anyway. There were some members of the committee who couldn’t attend and they notified us,” explained Ollie.

“I know some people might not like going to meetings, and we have some very good sponsors and some businesses do support us even if they don’t attend the meetings. Hopefully we will be able to raise the money we need. The kind of events and entertainment we will have will be determined by how much money we can get in,” he added.

The AGM was held last Wednesday March 21. The main source of income for the festival will be ad revenue and patronage from the programme of events. Given the current climate, the chairman is also encouraging clubs and charities to run their own events during the festival, which can be included in the programme.

“We don’t mind if they want to organise them as fundraisers for themselves. I know we are in difficult times at the moment and it’s hard for clubs and charities to fundraise,” he added.

Ollie is hopeful the committee will be able to get a grant from the Kildare Leadership Programme to help with the costs. This year’s festival will have an arts and culture flavour with emphasis being placed on artwork, crafts, photography and other creative pursuits.

There will also be concerts and entertainment in the square and the Mikado open air concert at the Irish National Stud. The festival will have a family orientated feel with many events focused on fun for all ages. A horse fair is another suggestion which may be included. The Derby Festival Queen will go ahead again this year and the Kildare Soccer Club will be holding a field day as part of the festival. The committee are also putting together a new website.