WITH an impressive budget of £30,000 to spend on this year’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations its looking like Strabane may make other towns green with envy.
Last year there was a furious reaction when the council initially awarded the Strabane festivities just £1,000. That amount was later upgraded to £10,000 and now it has been increased threefold.
The local voluntary organising committee behind the annual event have stepped down and this year’s festival will be organised entirely by Derry City and Strabane District Council and they are hoping to make the event bigger and better than ever.
With £30,000 of funding available this year’s event will see a revamped programme to celebrate all things Irish through the medium of dance, music, language, art and animation.
With an exciting new approach to the celebrations, festivals co-ordinator Ashleigh McSorley is calling for as much engagement from local individuals as possible.
“This year we are trying from every angle to make the parade bigger and better than ever,” she said. “We are urging any people or groups from all sections of the community to get involved. The success of this year’s event depends on how much the local area participate.”
This week, a series of interest meetings were held to encourage individuals to voice their ideas in relation to upcoming activities. Ideas for this year’s programme include a parade procession, a mini Gaeltacht experience, a multi-cultural area, a selection of trad groups scattered throughout the town, an Irish dancing showcase and a vibrant display of big bands and live music. Popular folk band The Whistlin’ Donkeys are among the musicians confirmed for the festival.
“This is certainly a very strong programme,” Ashleigh explained. “It is something to get excited about, and we are hoping the fresh approach will go down well. St Patrick’s Day celebrations have always been very strong in the town, and we are encouraging as many groups to get involved as possible. We are hoping this year’s parade is something the people of Strabane can be proud of.”