Join the European party (E.P.F.)
They say, "No man is an island" but when you are on an island hosting a European event, isn't it worth making sure that your country is represented even if that means being the only one waving your flag.
For twenty years I have lived and loved the European People's Festival (E.P.F.) but 2010 was the first year I got to celebrate the event in my home town as I was too young to participate and enjoy Athlone's first festival.
Each year the festival takes place in a different country but this year for example there were only 15 of the E.U.s member states in Portugal's fantastic festival.
Some states like Austria have never participated in the festival to my knowledge and some have taken full advantage of the festival to showcase their towns to their European festival friends.
All my friends have heard about the European Festival at some stage and this year I am sure that many of my stories sound like Alyson Hannigan in American Pie with her constant references, "This one time at band camp."
Anyways one time at the European Festival, Carmel Duffy and others pointed out to me that the problem with the European Festival is that the enthusiasm for the festival wanes between hosting the event because so many years pass as the EPF moves onto other EU nations and mightn't return to the town for a minimum of ten years.
Portugal was my first festival in 1999 and I returned 20 years later to their third event. I have been to Luxembourg's event twice and would love to see my town hosting their third event in the future.
When the festival returned to Athlone, I was not part of the committee in any sense nor helped to organise any of the events but I did take time off work to at least volunteer on some of the nights.
One of my friends who is originally from Tallin in Estonia was very disappointed that her country wasn't represented in the event so we bought a large Estonian flag for her and on one of the nights she draped the flag like a dress and we went out to Sean's Bar to enjoy the celebrations.
Can one man make a difference? Well you haven't met my friend Piret and I would wonder if she couldn't represent Estonia a little better the next time the E.P.F. comes to Athlone even if she was on her own.
Running certainly wouldn't be an issue for my athletic friend if there was running but she would need some friends to form a basketball and football team. I'm sure she could swim and cycle but I don't think she could become a one-man band all by herself.
Estonia is a small European nation of only about 1.3 million people but as long as we can buy more flags, maybe we could start a delegation that could hmmm delegate.
I was invited to swim for Finland when the festival was going to Hungary and was happy to finish the swim while the Irish team took podium positions and lots of points. Maybe over lots of pints, we can recruit some Athlonians as Estonians and even if we didn't finish every event, I believe we can all fly the flag and join this fantastic European party when it next returns to Ireland.