Monmouthshire has truly embraced this week’s National Eisteddfod with its distinctive blue pavilion displaying the best of the county’s arts, crafts, culinary skills and sports.  The impressive Love Monmouthshire/Caru Sir Fynwy setting is a major attraction on the Eisteddfod Maes at Abergavenny’s Castle Meadows.

The flower-decked pavilion hosts a mix of colourful permanent, semi-permanent and one-off features drawing large and appreciative crowds.  The site consists of three areas – the Give It a Go Zone where people test their sports prowess, the Vale of Usk Country Kitchen showcasing the best of the region’s food and cookery, and a main staging area.  This is where a range of activities takes place – choirs, individual singers, exhibitions like the River Severn Lave fishermen display, belly dancing, writing workshops, sand sculpting, stalls offering local produce, children’s activities and much more.

The Give it a Go Zone features football, rugby, archery, golf, a climbing tower, cycling and tennis and has earned praise from BBC TV personality Jason Mohammad.  Jason tweeted:

Loved @eisteddfod today. Beautiful site and big well done @MonmouthshireCC @MonSportAwards for the superb sports on offer too! #steddfod16

The Zone will feature the Wales under 20 rugby squad on Wednesday and the GB Davis Cup winning team with its trophy two days later.

The Vale of Usk Country Kitchen demonstrates why the area is justifiably famous for its food.  Displays from noted chefs and writers like Carol Adams, Steffan Davies and Nerys Howells are sure to whet the appetite while a children’s cookery workshop is already proving popular.

The pavilion has already drawn visitors from the Welsh Government.  First Minister Carwyn Jones called in on Monday while the Secretary for Finance and Local Government, Mark Drakeford is due to drop in on Wednesday.

Many local residents are playing a crucial part in the Eisteddfod, either as competitors or through their involvement in the smooth running of the event.  Children from Monmouthshire’s schools have made their mark as clog dancers, choral singers and flower girls in Monday’s Gorsedd ceremony which honoured and welcomed new members. Meanwhile, volunteers and council staff have welcomed visitors to the Maes and bus drivers have ensured an efficient park and ride scheme to transport Eisteddfod goers.

Monmouthshire’s cabinet member with responsibility for the Welsh language, Councillor Phil Hobson said: “We’ve eagerly looked forward to the Monmouthshire & District National Eisteddfod but its arrival has exceeded all expectations.  It’s a wonderful and colourful celebration of language and culture with a lot of Monmouthshire residents revelling in all the activities on the Maes.  Our Love Monmouthshire/Caru Sir Fynwy pavilion is outstanding and has featured spectacular performances as well as demonstrating the best of the county’s rich heritage. I would urge all local people to come and join this wonderful event.  There’s plenty to see and do for everyone of all ages, Welsh and English speakers alike – come along and see what Monmouthshire has to offer”.

The Monmouthshire and District National Eisteddfod is held on Castle Meadows, Abergavenny until 6 August.  For more information go to: www.eisteddfod.wales.