A record number of 20 rafts competed in the race last year, and at the time of writing that number was already exceeded with 28 registered to participate, the highest ever since the event was started by the Tidy Towns Committee.
The event has expanded into a day of entertainment and fun in the seaside village, with the raft race the centrepiece of the programme. This year due to the time of the tide and the number of entrants, the programme will start with the Raft Race at 1pm.
It will be necessary to run three heats with the level of entries as it stands, as the maximum number of rafts that can be accommodated at one time is ten. The qualifiers will then contest a final, and a new name looks like going on the trophy with last year’s winners, the Dundalk Mens Shed team, not defending their title.
It has been a wide open contest from the early years when the Black Pig, representing the Bay View, had a stranglehold on the trophy, winning the race in successive years from 1996 to 2004. This is due to the growing popularity of the event again sponsored by Brendan Watters Insurances and the increased competition with the growth in teams competing.
Larry Tuite who captained the Black Pig all during their period of dominance, has been selected as Admiral for Sunday’s race, and his ceremonial duties will entail starting the event. The entrants represent businesses and organisations from the village and further afield.
Live commentary will be provided by Kate Smyth who adds her own touch of excitement and humour to the occasion.
The programme after the race includes a treasure hunt, a sandcastle competition, a recital at the Sundial by Dundalk Brass Band, a schools talent competition. The new Coastguard helicopter will also make an appearance unless it is called to deal with an emergency, and Dundalk Cricket Club will again entertain with their “Cricket on the Beach.”
There will also be amusements in the lower car park, lots of side shows, including face painting for the children. The Tidy Towns are also running a bumper raffle, with lines on sale in various outlets around the village as well as on the day. The prizes include a 32″ TV courtesy of Lally’s Electrical, a Night at the Races sponsored by Dundalk Stadium, and other prizes sponsored by McQuillan’s Pharmacy, Louth County Council, The Hair Shop and Cooley Distillery.
The treasure hunt for the family sponsored by the Crowne Plaza Hotel is scheduled for 2.30pm the same time as the display by the Coastguard helicopter, with the sandcastle competition sponsored by Tiernans Centra and the Dundalk Brass Ban recital, sponsored by the Windsor at the sundial at 3pm.
The cricket exhibition is at 4pm and the programme will conclude with the Schools Talent competition at 4.30pm organised and staged by the Reynolds Academy of Performing Art.