The Blue Jean Country Queen Festival was the brainchild of Patrick Farrelly, a member of Carnaross Macra na Feirme. After several visits to The Rose of Tralee, Patrick was so impressed by that festival that he wanted to start a similar festival in Meath. One day, while out driving on his Massy Ferguson 188 he heard “I’m a Blue Jean Country Queen” being performed by Irish country music icon Philomena Begley and inspiration struck!
The very first Blue Jean Country Queen Festival took place in June 1987. It included many of the elements that would become mainstays of the festival tot his day, including the Queen’s on stage interviews, fashion show, fancy dress football and the Gala Banquet. One of the quirks of the early festivals was that the Kirwin Arms in Athboy had no function room large enough to hold the banquet and Queens and committee had to be bussed to a nearby hotel and then back to Athboy to find out the winner!
Since 1987, many new elements have been added including the Saturday Carnival and Craft Fair, Sunday the Lark in the Park which have opened up the festival to the entire local community. It has also seen plenty of celebrity involvement from guest emcees like Brendan Grace, Ray D’Arcy, Hector Ó hEochagáin and musical performances from Voice of Ireland contestant Nigel Connell.
Since Samantha Baldwin from Wicklow claimed first claimed the title of Blue Jean Country Queen, Queens have come from all over Ireland and across the globe to compete for the crown. Over the past 30 years Queens have come from England, Scotland, America, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, Slovakia and each year the Autonne Villages in Picardy, France, with whom the town of Athboy is twinned, send a French Queen. Foregin visitors have taken home the title on several occasions with two Scottish contestants, one New Yorker and a French Queen coming away victorious. Domestically, Limerick, Cork Queens have had the best luck in the competition! While Meath has only claimed the crown twice. Most significantly in 2010, when hometown girl Celine Smyth was the winner.
The Blue Jean Country Queen Festival has become a highlight of the year for the entire north-east region and has helped create lasting friendships and unforgettable experiences for everyone involved for everyone who has ever been involved.