MORE than 200 people gathered in Abergavenny this week for the first public meeting ahead of the National Eisteddfod coming to the county in 2016.

Members of the public were invited to Market Hall on Thursday evening to meet the organisers of the festival and find out how to get involved.

Greeting the residents, president of the Eisteddfod, Garry Nicholas, said: “We are coming to the whole of Monmouthshire. This is an Eisteddfod for the whole county. We are eager to reflect this in its name.

“This shall be the National Eisteddfod for Monmouthshire and its surrounds.”

Featured in the festival logo is the Welsh word, ‘Hiraeth.’

Mr Nicholas added: “We are eager to work on the ground, raising the profile of the Welsh language and give people the opportunity to enjoy the culture of Wales. It starts here tonight.

The festival, which celebrates Wales’ culture of poetry, music and dance, will be held at Castle Meadows in Abergavenny in 2016. The festival attracts 160,000 visitors every year and was last held in Monmouthshire in 1913.

Also attending the meeting were deputy leader of the council, Councillor Phil Hobson and Conservative MP David Davies.

Organiser, Elen Huws Elis, sought to gauge interest for volunteers for 10 committees, set up to cover each of the subject areas, from drama and dance, to Cerdd Dant and visual arts.

At the next meeting, on September 17 at Caldicot School, officers will be elected for each committee.

Organisers predict Monmouthshire will take in £6m-£8m for the week-long festivities which begin on July 31 to August 6.

Monmouthshire council will provide £580,000 towards hosting the event, of which £300,000 will be raised by the community in the next two years, with the support of Eisteddfod organisers.

The county will be split into 42 wards, which will each have a set financial target to raise.