Interview for John Saul Picnic and Vintage Fair , first published in The Evening Echo 2014-7-23

Le Chat Noir, the people behind the incredibly successful ‘Oh Me Oh My DIY!’ vintage fashion workshop in June are back this August on the bank holiday Monday with the John Saul Picnic and Vintage Fair, a fantastic family day in conjunction with the Castlemartyr Resort.

Cathy O’Donoghue and Leona O’Sullivan-Breen, two of the organisers spoke with Ronan Leonard to give the lowdown on the event, Leona was excited by how it is progressing, “it’s already looking like it’s going to be one of Cork’s biggest ever vintage fairs. We wanted to organise ‘fun, food, & frolics’ for all the family so we’ve put together a programme of events that cater to loads of different tastes and age groups but all with the central theme of a very vintage and local feel to it. A huge number of vendors and exhibitors are already confirmed and we keep getting people trying to get involved, it going to be a really busy, exciting and jam packed day out.”

Leona explained the cause of the Picnic and Fair, “it’s all in aid of a East Cork Rapid Response and some other local charities, there’ll be a raffle as well as the ticket sales; but much more than that this is an opportunity to appreciate the historical landscape surrounding Castlemartyr Resort in a different way, and the chance to linger there with some great food, music entertainment, all with a vintage twist.”

Cathy listed off some of the entertainment planned for the day, “there’ll be a Best Dressed Competition with prizes for the finest period costumes. To keep some of the Dads happy there will be an exhibition of an old style threshing and also a vintage car parade. There’s also going to be great live music, dancing and entertainment, whilst indoors in the Capel Suite at Castlemartyr Resort, will be the Le Chat Noir Vintage Fair which will be full with stalls of vintage-inspired crafts, vintage and retro fashion and accessories, vintage gifts, home ware, antiques and art to be perused… and hopefully purchased!”

Younger attendees on the day will be well catered for too, as Cathy continues, “we are very excited about the kids’ sports day we have put together, as well as a dedicated children’s play area with things such as puppet shows, face painters,
and hula hoop competitions. We will also have a Teddy Bears’ Hospital, where you can bring along your injured or damaged bears and have him mended by the experts for a small donation.”

The plans for the picnic and family day span over the entire Castlemartyr Resort’s lands, which Leona thinks will add to the potential of the day “the John Saul Picnic itself will be going on all over the wonderful gardens during the day. Rather than having one defined spot we want the guests to be able to bring a blanket to spread out and eat their own picnics or choose from some fine foods & drinks being sold from the stalls. The selection is going to be amazing, there will be locally made breads, cheeses, preserves, fat summer sandwiches and the always popular Miss Piggy’s ‘Pig On A Spit’, a superbly juicy taste!”

While perceived wisdom might be that organising an event on a bank holiday Monday would be a bad idea but Cathy doesn’t agree, “why not! In our opinion it’s an obvious choice, often Bank Holidays can be days where you are looking for something to do with the family. It worked out so well for us last year that we decided to keep the same date for this year.”

The idea of running family led events has developed over the years as Leona explained; “it is definitely in our minds now. When we started organising vintage fairs back in 2011 the concept was to create a unique vintage shopping experience for people like us as we felt there was nothing like that happening in Cork. We didn’t expect it to take off so much and we really didn’t expect that our fairs would attract not just like-minded vintage loving people but kids … and menfolk! Now we always bear this in mind when planning not just fairs but any event, we want there be something for all the family to enjoy.”

Over recent years smaller scale bespoke events have become a lot more popular and successful, the traditional marketing budget companies would have been needed can now be replaced with astute use of social media, Cathy thinks that all social media outlets have played a part in the interest in The John Saul Picnic and Vintage Fair, “it seems to me that there really is no age limit now with who has an account on most social media platforms. Snapchat may be dominated by teenagers and people in their early twenties but the audience we have on our social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram range from 20 to 60 year olds. 25-34 year olds being our biggest audience which would include lots of young parents followed by 35-44 year olds so when promoting the John Saul Picnic & Vintage Fair online, we know we are hitting our target audience. It’s great!”

Leona also explained a little about whom the Picnic is named after, “John Saul is one of Castlemartyr’s most famous sons, he was born there in 1819 and went on to have an influential and successful career as a highly respected horticulturalist in Washington D.C. He was actually responsible for the planning and development of the celebrated Mall and other public areas in the then emerging capital city. His grandfather, Barnabas Saul, and father, James Saul, had worked as gardeners on Castlemartyr Estate, so to celebrate that connection we started John Saul Picnic & Vintage Fair at Castlemartyr Resort in those very same magnificent gardens.”

The 2nd John Saul Picnic and Vintage Fair will be held on Bank Holiday Monday 4th August from 12 noon to 5pm. Tickets for adults cost €6 with children free, parking is also free. Tickets can be purchased on the day at the gate or sales@castlemartyrresort.ie

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