The harvest festival in Listowel attracted more people than it did in 2019, defying a noticeable decline in attendance at Irish racetracks this year and delighting track authorities.
Pat Healy, the chairman of the course, praised the “great turnout” as around 92,000 people went to the Kerry location throughout the week, up from 89,072 in 2019, the final full year without crowd control for Covid-19.
On Wednesday, Busselton won the suspenseful Kerry National in front of more than 25,000 spectators. On Friday, 27,232 people attended ladies’ day, and 11,053 spectators on Saturday set a record
.The harvest festival, which ended on Saturday, was a success despite a decline in racecourse attendance of 8.8% in Ireland during the first half of 2022.
We’re over the moon, Healy remarked. It’s always a good start when the weather gods smile at you.
“I’m thrilled for our committee, staff and the town of Listowel itself. Everyone puts their shoulder to the wheel when it comes to the harvest festival, it’s a real community effort. Everybody put their heart and soul into it and the turnout was amazing.”
First staged in 1858, the community feel that surrounds the festival is one of the major pull factors according to Healy.
He added: “I think it’s the last real community race meeting in Ireland. People who leave Listowel for work and whatever else all come home for it, they make a holiday out of it. Everybody in the community embraces it, which is important, you need that.
“We have a special community in Listowel. We have a fantastic tidy towns committee and the town looked brilliant. When you have all those people working hard to make the harvest festival a success, it just makes me so happy and proud. It couldn’t have gone better.”
The opportunity to celebrate what was a very successful week would be welcomed by many, but Healy and his staff are already making plans for the following year.
“There are one or two tweaks we have to look at to keep raising the bar, and we’re already looking ahead to the 2023 harvest festival,” he said.