THERE was a sense of normality in Irvinestown on Friday night when the mini-Lady of the Lake festival was officially opened for 2021.

Groups turned up in all their colourful glory to join in a fancy dress parade to launch the festival. Families came from all across the county and the pandemic-influenced ideas for fancy dress costumes were a reminder of the year that has passed.

The Cassidy family from Irvinestown gave a nod to the series that many of us watched on television and on streaming platforms during the Covid-19 lockdown when they dressed up as people from Netflix’s ‘Tiger King’, including Joe Exotic, Carole Baskin and a whole host of characters from the hit show.

The youngest members of the family were dressed as lion cubs in their pram as they were wheeled around the town.

The Dolan family from Enniskillen dressed as ‘Lockdown essentials’, with one dressed as a ‘Zoom’ meeting, complete with a hand-drawn keyboard, and another dressed as a toilet roll.

Mum Caroline said: “It’s nice to get out and about and to be at something that has been arranged.”

Fancy dress

Five-year-old identical twins Molly and Lily from Derrylin captured the spirit of the past year when they came to the fancy dress parade as ICU nurses. The pair were decked out in PPE and even brought their ‘patients’ – two large dolls – out for the day.

Excited spectators waved as the parade made its way through the town accompanied by Drumharvey Pipe Band and St. Patrick’s Pipe Band, Coa.

The event was then officially opened by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council Chairman, Errol Thompson.

Following this, prizes were presented to the winners of the fancy dress competition, with music before and after the parade provided by The Barry Doyle band.

Nikita Ward, the current Lady of the Lake, was in high spirits and said: “There is a good crowd out and there is a good buzz in the town. It is good to see everyone out and about enjoying themselves. All of the costumes really do represent everything we have been going through, and it’s good to be open again.”

Other highlights over the weekend included a tractor run in place of the annual truck run, which drew in crowds and some fine vintage cars and tractors. Everyone enjoyed getting out and about to see the different makes and models of the classic vehicles.

The Necarne Estate received its fair share of visitors during the festival weekend with sponsored, equestrian trials and concerts taking place. The drive-in concerts on Saturday and Sunday proved a highlight as the musicians played in front of historic Necarne Castle.

Raft racing

Castle Archdale was also utilised as events took place on land and water, including the popular raft racing competition and a walking tour.

The fair day on Tuesday was another highlight in the Lady of the Lake calendar as many people gathered to experience the excitement of the day’s buzz. This time, the popular event was moved to Necarne Estate instead of in the town centre, but it was well supported by locals and visitors alike.