SELKIRK will be transformed this weekend as the town relives a little of its history and celebrates its connections with one of Scotland’s most famous writers, Sir Walter Scott.
The annual Scott’s Selkirk celebrations promise to be even more action-packed and fun-filled this year, for organisers decided to compress the event into just one day, Saturday.
But to get everyone in the mood, tomorrow night it’s time to dance to the Neil Hardie Ceilidh Band from 7.30pm in the Victoria Halls.
On Saturday a costume parade led by Maister Tommy Combe, Provost Les Millar and ‘Sir Walter Scott’ will precede the opening ceremony which will launch the weekend at 10.15am.
Maister Combe said: “We’re hoping for big crowds, especially as it’s one day only, and decent weather, no rain or wind. We don’t mind it being cold, just as long as it’s dry.
“There is really a lot of entertainment and we’re hoping people will come along and enjoy themselves. Everybody who comes to Scott’s Selkirk, especially if they are in costume, are part of it: they’re not spectators, they are part of the celebration.”
Visitors will have the chance to ride in a rare 1850 horse-drawn glass carriage on its first official outing since being restored by owners Cornhill Carriage Company.
“I’m really impressed. We usually have an open carriage, but since it’s jubilee year it will be nice to have a glass carriage!” said Maister Combe.
And Meg Dod’s kitchen, which will be sited in the grounds of The Southern Reporter serving delicious traditional food and fabulous musical entertainment, will stay open longer this year, until 10pm.
Visitors – some coming from as far afield as Azerbaijan – are invited to dress up in Georgian costume to join organisers and re-enactors creating a 19th-century feel when Sir Walter was Sheriff of the Royal and Ancient Burgh.
The Royal Burgh will be abuzz with street entertainment, the local pipe, silver and flute bands, as well as visiting musicians and many opportunities to buy quality Christmas pressies too.
The main music venues include Meg Dods’ kitchen, the County Pend and the Market Place and High Street.
Riddell Fiddells will serve up violin, guitar and double bass entertainment, Kick the Cat will be demonstrating the Appalachian clogging style of dance, while traditional and contemporary Scottish, Irish and American music is the speciality of Carlenjig, with Adam Raeburn on long-neck banjo, guitar and vocals, Pat Douglas on guitar and vocals, Donald Knox on guitar, mandola and vocals, and Andrew Brodie on accordion and harmonica.
Border and Northumbrian Pipes expert, guitarist and fiddle-player Matt Seattle will perform, well as hold a workshop (in the Country Hotel at 2.30pm).
Needing no introduction locally, popular skiffle band The Bogie’s Close Stompers include a washboard, banjo, harmonica, whistle and tea chest bass in their line-up. The Beggar Girls, a five-piece band from the Borders, will also be entertaining with a blend of original, Balkan, French and English folk music. Selkirk outfit Gael Force will be encouraging toe-tapping in the County Pend and Kelso-based outfit High Line, fresh from recording their first CD, will perform folk tunes.
Circus Malabaristas will be a towering presence as their costumed stiltwalkers mingle and their jesters juggle in Market Place and High Street. And the Border Clansmen, dressed in period costume, will be recreating history and giving talks and combat demonstrations.
Abbotsford Trust’s learning officer Dr Sandra McNeil will give a free informal talk about Sir Walter Scott, his links with Selkirk and the redevelopment of Abbotsford in Selkirk library at 2pm.
Also new to Scott’s Selkirk will be traditional music from the Borders duo of Carly Blain from Kelso and Graeme Armstrong from Jedburgh. A former finalist in BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards, Carly is a graduate of Folk and Traditional Music from Newcastle University, where Graeme is currently studying.
Visitors will have the chance to see two of Scott’s cases re-enacted, including one never seen before: “The Seamy Work o’ the Weaver”. Performances will take place in Scott’s Courtroom at 11.30am, 12.30pm, 2.15pm and 3.15pm.
Proclamations will be given throughout the day from the Fleshmarket steps and anyone with something to announce such as a birthday, engagement or other should leave details at the festival office at 18 Market Place (open from 7am).
In Market Place, alongside entertainment from most of the event’s musicians, there will be market stalls, refreshments, stiltwalkers and jugglers, the urchins of the Borders Youth Theatre, united churches carol singers, French Prisoners and Borders Clansmen, a street organ, a birds of prey demonstration and a hog roast.
Selkirk’s Parish Church will host the ‘Selkirk Opera through the Ages’ exhibition and in the hall there will be coffee and crafts tomorrow and Sunday as well as the main day.
There will be a birds of prey display in the forecourt of St Joseph’s Church Hall and the hall itself will host a traditional tea shop.
The County Hotel is the venue for the Border Clansmen giving an insight into four Scott characters – Rob Roy, Ivanhoe, Old Mortality and The Pirate – at 1.30pm and 3.30pm.
‘Ring o’ the Toun’ guided walks, revealing some of the history of the Royal Burgh, take place throughout the day and Selkirk Country Dancers will perform at Connections at 1pm.
There are children’s craft activities and stalls at Halliwell’s House Museum and soup and coffees at Rowlands from 10am to 2pm. And the local Rotary Club will be holding its annual charities bazaar in conjunction with Scott’s Selkirk as usual in the Victoria Halls on Saturday afternoon when more than 20 charities will have stalls.
The closing ceremony gets under way with a torchlight procession along the High Street to Market Place, with music from the Selkirk Silver Band. And the Belmont Fireworks concluding the day are eagerly anticipated by many.
Fireworks organiser Edith Scott said: “People come at night just to see the fireworks. They make such a good job of it, the fireworks are all airborne and it’s spectacular – it’s one of the highlights of Scott’s Selkirk.”
She warned animal lovers in the Market Place, Kirk Wynd, Halliwells and Back Row areas to take appropriate precautions to protect their pets from the noise of the fireworks, starting at 6.45pm. Visit www.scottish-borders.com/artman/prog.pdf