"THE wonderful spectacle of the massed pipe bands was the highlight of the weekend of events, and the one eagerly awaited by visitors, residents and traders alike."
This was the comment of Sandy Wilson, Chairperson of the Broughshane and District Community Association in his role of Chieftain of the Day, at last Saturday's Co. Antrim Pipe Band Championships in Broughshane Village.
Crowds flocked to this family event, and even the few rain showers couldn't dampen the high spirits of supporters and friends.
The organisers spared no expense in seeing that everyone was well catered for.
Free grandstand seating was provided for about 200 and band members were treated to free meals. Five pipe bands each won £200 for the parade of the Village after the Finale, and three drum majors received £25 each.
As one Official said, this competition has now set the standard which all others must try to follow.
The Co Antrim 2004 winners were Field Marshal Montgomery in Grade 1; Ballinderry Bridge in Grade 2; Finvoy Grade 3A; Seven Towers in Grade 3B; Queen Elizabeth in 4A and Thiepval Memorial Convoy in Grade 4B.
Paula Braiden, Donna Gillespie, Elizabeth Sloan and Craig Clydesdale were the 2004 Co. Antrim winning drum majors.
Saturday 12th June will see the second of this year's five major championships taking place with the British, which will be held in Turriff, Scotland.
Only four bands will travel to this event and they are the Field Marshal Montgomery, Ballycoan and Ravara in Grade 1 with Altnaveigh Memorial in Grade 3B.
The Mid-Ulster section of the RSPBA are this year celebrating their 50th Annual Pipe Band and Drum Majors Championships in Cookstown on Saturday 19th June.
This year's event marks a milestone for the Mid-Ulster Section and they are promising a special day's entertainment for everyone.
The contest, which is to be held in the playing fields of Cookstown High School, is set to be one of the best ever seen in Cookstown. The Chieftain of the day will be the Chief Executive of Cookstown District Council Mr Michael McGuckin.
As part of the celebrations the Section are hosting the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band in concert on Friday night prior to the concert in the Burnavon Centre, Cookstown.
The Friday night date for your diary is 18th June. Tickets are now on sale costing £12.50 each and are available from the Burnavon Centre Box Office (tel. 8676 9949).
The Field Marshal will also be appearing in Grade 1 at the Saturday competition.
Contest secretary Gloria Patterson said: "This promises to be one of the best ever weekends of piping in the Mid-Ulster area, and we in the section are delighted to have the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band in concert. The Saturday promises to have loads of entertainment as well."
Grade 1 - 1st Field M. Montgomery (also best pipes). 2nd Strathclyde Police (also best drums and best bass). 3rd St. Laurence O'Toole. 4th Bleary & District.
Grade 2 - 1st Ballinderry Bridge (also best pipes) 2nd Upper Crossgare. 3rd Cullybackey (also best bass and best drums). 4th Killadeas.
Grade 3A - 1st Finvoy (also best pipes). 2nd Quinn Memorial. 3rd Tullintrain. 4th Bready Ulster Scots (also best bass and best drums)
Grade 3B - 1st Seven Towers (also best pipes and best drums). 2nd Marlacoo. 3rd Altnaveigh Memorial (also best bass). 4th Cottown.
Grade 4A - 1st Queen Elizabeth (also best bass and best drums). 2nd Aughintober. 3rd Gortaclare 4th Battlehill (also best pipes)