THE population of Newcastleton, about 720 in the 2001 census, was boosted by an estimated 2,500, drawn to the Liddesdale village for the 42nd annual music festival over a weekend of scorching sunshine.
“The advent of our first ever Facebook page seemed to boost not only the entries for the competitions, but also visitors coming to sample our unique event,” said festival secretary Susie Kelly.
“We had three Spaniards who came after spotting our page, the young man who came second in the miscellaneous instrument section was a cellist from Paris, while the winner of the open fiddle was Malcolm Bushby all the way from Tasmania. I think that gives us the right to call ourselves a truly international festival.”
The weekend began with a superb opening concert in the Parish Church, overseen by an impressive papier mâché sculpture of the late, great Will Scott and featuring performers from all over Scotland.
Two Left Feet had the village hall full of dancers for Friday’s ceilidh while Saturday’s competitions were, us usual, well supported.
There were four new categories this year including storytelling with Jan Miller from Penicuik delighted to be the first name on the sparkling new trophy, sponsored by Sheila Stewart.
Meanwhile, Scott Lumsden and Ben Richardson, senior pupils at Newcastleton Primary, were popular and deserved winners of the inaugural original song in Scots competition.
Saturday’s ceilidh dance to the music of Reely Rocking drew a capacity crowd to the village hall. As usual, the village hostelries, including the Legion, which obtained a special weekend licence, overspilled as the enduring songs and melodies of countless sessions were enjoyed over the weekend.
The campsites were full with many visitors taking advantage of the River Liddel to cool off.
The festival, as usual, coincided with Newcastleton Common Riding with Tub Lynn Pearson, ably supported by her Flake Stuart Young, leading a cavalcade of hundreds of cyclists around the village on a sweltering Saturday.
“The Common Riding has actually nothing to do with the music festival, but the two events are so complimentary that both benefit enormously,” said Susie.
“It’s a weekend when this sleepy wee village comes alive and I know the festival committee is so grateful to all judges and performers who made this year so memorable.
“Most of all, our thanks go the people of Cophsaw for allowing us to take over the village. Without that support, this great festival would not happen.”