09 Mar Cross Border Trade Fair 2015
The Marshes Centre in Dundalk was abuzz on Friday 20th March 2015 as the town’s secondary school entrepreneurs displayed their wares to a receptive public.
The reason was the Dundalk Cross-Border Student Enterprise Trade Fair, an event that has been running in Dundalk since the mid 90s. It grew out of a desire to promote cross-border relations between young people through enterprise, and Dundalk has hosted the event annually ever since. The importance of this event can never be underestimated, providing an outlet for the impressive and articulate students to demonstrate to the public their enterprising talents, and for inviting students and their teachers in Northern Ireland to visit Dundalk, many for the first time.
Every year these students and their teachers have left Dundalk impressed by the hospitality of their hosts, and the welcome they have received from the town and its people. It is yet another event held locally that has promoted a positive image of Dundalk, and what is impressive here is that it is the town’s secondary school students who have taken the initiative and led the way.
In conjunction with their enterprise teachers, this year’s organisation was spearheaded by the Dundalk Grammar School TY Events Management team: Olivia O’Brien, Emma Bailey, Aoife O’Reilly and Zoe Hallahan. As ever, the Marshes gave great support to the event, in particular Centre Manager, Harry Traynor, and Aoife Kerley, Centre Administrator.
This year, Dundalk Chamber of Commerce threw its weight behind the event, led by Michael Gaynor and Paddy Malone. The team of judges comprised Michael Gaynor (Special Stories) who acted as Chairperson, Paul Cumiskey (Ulster Bank), Cormac Woods (Acorn Financial Services), Eva Mackie (AIB), and Paddy Malone (Accountant). Support for the event also came from Young Enterprise Northern Ireland, represented on the day by Helen Fitzpatrick, Development Manager.
In all, 32 groups took part, representing local secondary schools De La Salle, Dundalk Grammar, and Dun Lughaidh, who were joined by 4 mini-companies from St. Mary’s Diocesan Secondary School Drogheda, and companies from St. Columban’s College Kilkeel, and Lurgan Junior High School. While the majority of participating groups traded their wares as commercial enterprises, 2 of the groups were entrants in the Formula 1 For Schools Competition, and 1 group was participating to raise awareness and funds in aid of Irish Guide Dogs.
Most were transition year students, although 3 of the groups were 1st Year companies, and 1 sole trading company was the enterprising endeavour of 5th Year Business student, Lucy McManus. The energy and dynamism of all the stalls brought a collective buzz to the Marshes, and, amidst the hustle and bustle, was the tranquil setting of Havanna Coffee, which its enterprising directors ran for the duration of the fair. The day was well supported by the public who visited the Centre, and they can only have been impressed, not only by the quality of wares on display and for sale, but by the enthusiasm and business acumen of the students themselves.
Following judging, awards were presented as follows:
- Most Innovative Product : Free Flow
- Best Visiting Company: Stop Shop
- Best Stall Presentation: Wonderland’s Wonderful Works
- Best Marketing: Voche
- Best Salesperson: Power Aid
- Best Overall Company: Q5