With just over two weeks to go to one of Europe’s largest outdoor events, preparations in Screggan, Tullamore are well under way for the National Ploughing Championships.

At the official launch on the Co. Offaly site the national media and special guests were treated to an exciting preview of what to expect, with entertainment from local performers while prize-winning animals, quality machines, horses and hounds were all on display.

Models from the Holman Lee modelling agency took to a mini catwalk to provide a glimpse of the highly anticipated fashion shows that will take place throughout the three days of the event.

The Ploughing Championships not only provides a national stage for showcasing all things agricultural, but also brings people together  from all sectors of Irish society both rural and urban, said NPA Managing Director Anna May McHugh.

“It is great to see the phenomenal interest in the Ploughing Championships with countries such as Australia, France, UK, Netherlands, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Germany, Canada and Belgium exhibiting,” McHugh said.

With 281,000 visitors attending last year and over 1,500 stands the Ploughing Championships is one of the market leading Agriculture Trade Fairs worldwide.

This year the National Ploughing Association (NPA) are piloting a ‘park n ride’ system for Dublin traffic in an effort to improve the visitor experience.

The service will be complimentary and operate frequently each way throughout the three days, giving visitors the added benefit of a drop off point within a few hundred metres of exhibition arena.

Visitors to this year’s National Ploughing Championships will also have the opportunity to get train transport from around Ireland to travel to Tullamore, where Bus Éireann will operate a shuttle service for the 5km trip to the Screggan site.

There will be an array of new exhibitors as well as hundreds of outstanding veteran companies showcasing their products and services in dynamic ways at this years event, according to the NPA.

The very latest models in agricultural machinery will be on display, quality livestock, a Forestry Village, Food Fayre and an International Business Centre in the Innovation Arena.

There will be an extended Local Enterprise Village with over 80 exhibitors as well as National Baking Competitions, Garden Displays, Craft Shows, a Volkswagen 4×4 driving experience and many topical seminars.

An extended Trade Arena will see the return of the Tented Retail Village with demand necessitating the return of the “Dome” the biggest Arcade ever, with over 120 exhibitors displaying in the one arena plus hundreds more located in specialist Pavilions.

New initiatives this year will include the Machine of the Year competition, charity calves auction and Ireland’s first ever tractor football matches.

The National Ploughing Championships will take place from Tuesday, September 20 to Thursday, September 22 in Screggan, Tullamore, Co Offaly.