Community festivals in towns and villages across County Fermanagh are a long-standing tradition that “bring people together.” However, along with the rewards, organising a community festival has many challenges.

Joe Mahon (pictured below), one of the organisers of Irvinestown’s Lady of the Lake Festival, spoke to The Impartial Reporter about some of these challenges. He highlighted that “getting a good committee together” can be challenging but that over the “last number of years” there has been a “good committee that has been there voluntarily.”

A spokesman for the committee of Ballinamallard Festival also commented that it was challenging trying to get people “interested in attending the AGM” and “getting people to support the festival events.”

He added: “The support is always modest from the area. We have endeavoured to make people aware of the event through advertisement social media, mail shot and posters but it still does not attract the crowds.”

It is understood that it was due to a “lack of man power” that Kesh Carnival reluctantly cancelled their week-long community festival back in March, only for the town’s local Cricket and Football Club (NFCAFC) to offer support so that the summer festival could still take place. The festival will now run over a weekend, from Friday August 16 to Sunday August 18.

“Community Festivals are important from the sense that they bring people together who would not normally go out,” commented the spokesman for the committee of Ballinamallard Festival. “There is something for all age groups. It gives the people a chance to build up a lasting community spirit. Irvinestown is a good example of this with the Lady of The Lake bringing all sides together,” he added.

Echoing this sentiment, Joe Mahon said: “Community festivals are very important for the wellbeing of any town, as has been proved in Irvinestown over the last 40 years.” He continued: “Everyone in the town looks forward to the festival every year, people book their holidays around the festival, both tourist and local alike. Everyone benefits from having a good festival.”

Noting that the Lady of the Lake Festival gives Irvinestown “a great lift for 10 days,” Joe added: “When you see the large crowds out on the street for all the events it makes the work worthwhile.” He continued: “In recent years, seeing how the truck event has went from strength to strength, first of all raising much needed funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care, over £9,000,000 to date, but also on the day of the truck convoy seeing all the thousands of people out on the roads enjoying themselves and having a laugh from all denominations of faith.” Ballinamallard Festival will take place from June 1 to 8 and this year’s Lady of the Lake Festival will run from July 11 to 21.