Blue Jean Country Queen Festival

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The Blue Jean County Queen is a festival run by Meath Macra na Feirme that has taken place over the June Bank Holiday weekend in Athboy, Co.Meath since 1987.

History[edit]

In 1987, Patrick Farrelly a member of Macra na Feirme from Carnaross was inspired the song "Blue Jean Country Queen" by Linda Hargrove to create the festival. Since its inception it has been run by Meath Macra na Feirme taken place in the town of Athboy, Co. Meath. Although in 2001 the festival was postponed due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

The closure of The Old Darnley Lodge Hotel in 2013,[1] which was the venue for much of the weekends activity, resulted in the festival organizers having to put together alternative arrangements for housing many of the events. The hotel re-opened under new management the festival returned there the following year.

The festival verged on moving to the nearby town of Navan in 2014. However a set of lucrative sponsorship offers from local businesses as well as Athboy Credit Union was enough to guarantee the festival remained in Athboy.[2]

Contestants[edit]

The girls who participate in the competition are either members of Macra na Feirme, or a similar rural youth organisation in the case of overseas contestants. There is also a contestant from the Autonne Villages in France whom Athboy are twinned with. Each contestant will have gone through an interview at their own county/regional level in order to be chosen to compete at the festival. Over the weekend the girls are interviewed on stage by a celebrity and also by a panel of judges. Celebrity interviewers have included Ray D'Arcy, Brendan Grace, Darragh McCullough and Hector Ó hEochagáin.

Events[edit]

The festival is made up of several events that run from the Friday before the June Bank Holiday to the Bank Holiday Monday itself. The events include:

Friday[edit]

The Queens arrive and are interviewed on stage.

Saturday[edit]

A Craft Far, followed by a Street Carnival featuring music, dancing, face painting which is topped off by the Queens performing karaoke. Later that evening is the Queens pub crawl followed by the first event in the Festival Marquee usually a band.

Sunday[edit]

The Fair Green in Athboy plays host to family entertainment including music, entertainment, sideshows and the Queens engaging in a game of Fancy Dress Football and a fashion show. That evening the Banquet takes place which leads to the announcement of the winning Queen at midnight.

Monday[edit]

A music session takes place in the Athboy Stables market.

Previous Winners[edit]

Year Winner Represented
1987 Samantha Baldwin Wicklow
1988 Valerie Huxley Limerick
1989 Martina Mongey Meath
1990 Stephanie O'Grady Limerick
1991 Martina Daly Cork
1992 Ailish Murphy Laois
1993 Audry Margret Moran Cork
1994 Rosemary Holmes Mayo
1995 Brid O'Reily New York
1996 Mary B. Miller Laois
1997 Helena Fagan Westmeath
1998 Pauline Byrne Kildare
1999 Denise Cormican Galway
2000 Pamela Leonard Mayo
2001 N/A N/A[3]
2002 Gillian Porter Donegal
2003 Carol Byrne Waterford
2004 Edel Toolan Sligo
2005 Jean Williams Galway
2006 Deirdre Maloney Clare
2007 Haily Clarke England
2008 Catriona O'Connor Seandun, Cork
2009 Jillian McKay Scotland
2010 Celine Smyth[4] Meath
2011 Petrice Dineen O'Leary Seandun, Cork
2012 Leanne Brennan Wexford
2013 Canelle Beuze France
2014 Kate Manning Limerick
2015 Susie Manson Scotland

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