Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster (YFCU), Northern Ireland’s largest Rural Youth organisation hosted the YFCU Arts Festival on the 15th, 16th and 17th February at Ballymoney High School, with 10 clubs competing to get through to the Arts Festival Gala.
Martin Malone, NFU Mutual Manager for Northern Ireland, said “The NFU Mutual Charitable Trust is very proud to be long-standing supporters of the YFCU’s Arts Festival. The much-anticipated competition is a great initiative to showcase and celebrate the exceptional creativity and talent of our young farmers across Northern Ireland.”
Wednesday night performances compered by the wonderful Bob Esler in Ballymoney saw Lisnamurrican YFC, Kilrea YFC and Glarryford YFC showcase their creativity on stage. Lisnamurrican YFC opened the evening taking us on an adventure to the 2023 National Skiing Championship with ‘Swap on the Slopes’, followed by Kilrea YFC with a Northern Irish, Young Farmers’ twist on the classic, ‘Pirates of the CarriBANN’; the curtain closed after Glarryford YFC took to the stage with a performance that was out of this world – ‘The Future is Blue’.
On Thursday evening, compere Ian Coalter, warmed up the crowd with plenty of witty humour. Moneymore YFC brought the curtain up with their performance of ‘The Successful Candidate’ which had the crowd laughing and engaged from the outset. Straid YFC spoke to the audience through their production of ‘Bertie Be You’ encouraging fellow members and the audience to be true to themselves. Coleraine YFC took to the stage with ‘Change is on the Horizon’ transporting us back to 1890. To close the evening, Finvoy YFC had the audience laughing with their performance ‘The Downing Street Mission’.
Friday evening was the final night of the heats with compere, Joe Graham, who had the crowd singing and laughing from the beginning ready for the evening ahead. Randalstown YFC kicked off with ‘BT Phone Home’ where we saw some extra-terrestrial activity. Garvagh YFC rocked the stage with a romantic realisation in their production of ‘Beautiful Drug’. The final act to take the stage for the Arts Festival was Kilraughts YFC performing ‘Has-Been Hall of Fame’ where the audience got to see a few familiar faces under inspection.
Expert judges John Trueman and Jessica Keough assessed performances on all 3 nights, scoring clubs on a variety of elements and their production as a whole. Commenting on the performances John Truman described the evenings as “uplifting and joyful, with wonderful choreography and fantastic comedy.” He further recognised the dedication and work from the club producers, as well as sound and lighting crews. “Great productions, so well put together and professional”.
Congratulations to all clubs that competed. Each to be applauded for their dedication and resilience in bringing their show to the stage, entertaining and engaging audiences throughout the week.
We are delighted to announce the finalists going through to perform in YFCU Arts Festival Gala, at Millennium Forum, Londonderry, Saturday 25th March 23:
The Arts Festival Gala is set to be a great evening of laughs, entertainment and contest. YFCU would like to welcome all to join us on 25th March at Millennium Forum. There are limited tickets remaining for the Arts Festival Gala, to book tickets please contact the Millennium Forum Box Office on 028 7126 4455 or book online https://www.millenniumforum.co.uk/.
YFCU would like to thank to the staff of Ballymoney High School, the adjudicators and to our long-standing sponsor, NFU Mutual Charitable Trust for the continued sponsorship of YFCU Arts Festival and Gala along with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for their National Lottery funding support.
Sonya Whitefield, Arts Development Officer, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said, “The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is delighted to support the YFCU Arts Festival Competition through the Rural Engagement Arts Programme. We know that taking part in arts activities can raise self-esteem, boost confidence and motivation, as well as alleviate isolation and loneliness. The pandemic and the resulting lockdowns across the UK have taken a toll on individual lives, with mental health and well-being adversely effected and this has been particularly compounded in rural communities which are characterised by smaller and more dispersed populations.
Special thank you to Chestnutt Animal Feeds Limited for kindly sponsoring the VIP Reception at the upcoming YFCU Arts Festival Gala 2023.