Over 300 people are involved in workshops and rehearsals in the build-up to the highlight of the 21st Earagail Arts Festival – the Carnival Parade on 12th July.
With so little time left, co-ordinator Kevin O’Neill admits that work is fairly intensive in the final weeks and days before the parade. “The greatest challenge in pulling this together is down to the sheer numbers involved,” says Kevin, who adds however, that these volunteers have been really enthusiastic and generous in giving so much time to the preparations.
Kevin is also project manager of the Inishowen Carnival Group, the award-winning organisation whose creativity has won them accolades from all over Ireland. The Inishowen Carnival Group will play a central and leading role in the parade, but a whole range of other local groups are also involved, such as the Ghana Union, the Kigite Club, The Letterkenny Community Development Partnership, The Indian Community Centre and Greater Shantallow Community Arts, as well as a host of dance groups from all over Letterkenny and across the North West border region. The workshop programme is the first major outreach project for the festival, supported by the Peace 3 Programme, managed for the Special EU Programmes Body by Donegal County Council.
The workshops that have been taking place for over a month now concentrate on making the costumes, puppets and flags for the parade, and Kevin says that the work brings all these groups together in “a joint celebration of all our cultures”.
“Some people learn new skills, they enjoy meeting new people and it is also such a new experience to be involved in a unique event like the Carnival Parade.” Kevin says the rehearsals and workshops continue right up to the eve of the big day itself.
The Carnival Parade takes place on Saturday 12th July, leaving from An Grianán Theatre at 1pm and heading up the town’s main street. The parade will be led by the Hot 8 Brass Band from New Orleans so prepare for a great family fun day out. After the parade, the Earagail Arts Festival is staging a huge Village Fete in the Town Park in Letterkenny.