Ocana Fest celebrates the Captain’s special relationship with Mallow

40 years after Mexican pilot Captain Ruben Ocana made an emergency landing at Mallow Racecourse, safely piloting a Gulfstream jet aircraft to safety despite being nearly out of fuel, the town is looking forward to celebrating his memory with Ocana Fest, a two-day festival of events for locals and visitors which will be held this Friday and Saturday. Popular RTE One programme ‘Nationwide’ is expected to visit Mallow for the festival, so the town will be getting national exposure, forty years after the world’s media descended on the town to record Captain Ocana’s take-off from the racecourse.
Members of the Ocana family will be present to officially open the day’s horse racing at 1.30pm this Friday in the racecourse, followed at 6pm by the scattering of Captain Ocana’s ashes, and after this there will be a spectacular air show before the action switches to Mallow town itself, where there will be music, food and displays, plus fancy dress, and a performance by the San Patricio Mariachi Band.
On Saturday there will be a range of activities in the town, including children’s workshops, model airplane display, drone racing, an exhibition in Mallow Library, and the showing of a film by local man Alan Wilson of the events around Captain Ocana’s time in Mallow, plus the unveiling of a plaque outside Ocana’s Bar.
The times for the various events are as follows;
Friday, 21st April
1.30pm Racing at Cork racecourse Mallow, with a 7-race card, authentic Mexican food, and flags and bunting from Mexico.
6pm the scattering of Captain Ocana’s ashes on a Mexican orange blossom bed.
6.30pm Air Show by Aerobatics Ireland.
7.30pm Performance in the racecourse by Centre Stage School.
8pm Festivities move to Mallow town, where there will be a Mexican theme in food outlets, restaurants and bars.
8.30pm Adults’ and children’s fancy dress, plus a wandering performance by the San Patricio Mariachi Band.
9pm till late live music and entertainment at Ocana’s Bar and Restaurant and other participating outlets.
Saturday, 22nd April
11am Mexican-themed workshops for children, in the Hibernian Hotel.
12 noon a display of school engineering and art projects, with the announcement of winners, in the Hibernian Hotel.
1pm-5pm model airplane display and drone racing which will be live-streamed on Facebook. There will also be an exhibition of Mexican artefacts in Mallow Library.
2pm a talk by the Ocana family in the Hibernian Hotel Function Room on the amazing events of 40 years ago when Captain Ocana landed in Mallow Raceourse, followed by a showing of Alan Wilson’s film of the exciting events of April, 1983, including footage of the captain, the building of a runway at the racecourse, and the jet take-off which attracted international attention. (the film will be shown again at 4pm).
5.30pm the unveiling of a commemorative plaque on the façade of Ocana’s Bar and Restaurant.
6pm-8.30pm Performances by local musicians and the San Patricio Mariachi Band, plus music, fun and food.
9pm Visit local bars and restaurants, dressed in Mexican attire.

On that day, and for weeks afterwards, Mallow became national and international news as work began to build a runway for the jet to take off again, so it is fitting that four decades later the ashes of Captain Ocana will be scattered on the grass of the racecourse, as part of Ocana Fest, a two-day festival in the great man’s honour.
For more details about the two-day celebration of the 40th anniversary of Captain Ocana’s visit to Mallow, check out the Ocana Fest page on facebook.