Selkirk’s new autumn festival last weekend blending Scott’s Selkirk and Selkirk Sessions events has been hailed a success by its organisers.
Last December declining numbers and organisers at the Royal Burgh’s Christmas festival forced its dwindling, aging committee to call an extraordinary meeting to discuss the future of the event. Organisers of the town’s October musical weekend Selkirk Sessions, who were under similar difficulties, suggested that merging the two events could be the answer to their troubles.
Scott’s Selkirk chairman, ‘Maistress’ Viv Ross, told us: “It was a very good move – a really good basis to build on in future years. Scott’s Selkirk has been scaled down to a much more manageable event.
“We were unbelievably fortunate with the weather. The numbers were good, and there was a really nice feeling around the town. I was very pleased with the reaction, and the help we got from everybody. People wanted it to work, and enjoy the last of the sunshine.”
Sessions organiser Davey Scott concurred: “It worked very well. One of the original ideas for both festivals was to get people into the town, and I think we achieved that. On Saturday afternoon a lot of people were walking around the town – usually you can see the tumbleweed blowing around.”
But the plan to lessen the workload, he joked, had backfired: “I was hoping to get rid of the damn thing, but I’m playing a bigger role now than ever. I’ve been hoisted by my own petard. I think I had my I breakfast at 7 o’ clock at night, so more people are always welcome.”
Viv agreed: “We still didn’t have more people than usual, so we still need more people to help. I don’t think Jo Public appreciates how even a scaled down Scott’s Selkirk happens. A huge amount of work goes into it.”
One unhelpful difficulty, she added, was the loss of the continental market days before the event. “They were really enthusiastic to begin with,” she explained, “and as soon as I started asking for details for insurance and licences, I didn’t hear anything again.” Nine craft stall holders answered Viv’s desperate, last minute call.
The Market Place stalls were joined by Sir Walter Scott court cases in the Town Hall, folk dressing up in period costumes, kids attractions such as birds of prey and miniature horses and donkeys in the High Street, and Meg Dods’ Kitchen. These mixed with the Sessions’ open mics which attracted twenty performers between the two stages, and jam sessions at the Heatherlie House Hotel, Selkirk Bowling Club and the Town Arms.
Australia’s Melbourne Scottish Fiddlers, on a tour of Scotland, put up twenty players for a sell-out Saturday night concert at The County Hotel, and afterwards headed with local group Riddell Fiddles to fill the dance floor at Selkirk Conservative Club. The Aussie fiddlers then held a workshop in the Argus Centre on Sunday morning.
Anouncing the winners of the Sessions’ busking competition, Davey joked the prizes “reflected the spirit of the contest”: first prize went to Ron Hastings, who won a golden washboard that wasn’t golden; 10 year old Ruby Derbyshire won second prize – silver spoons that weren’t silver; and Jim Hughes came third, winning a bronze kazoo that wasn’t bronze. In other Session competition results, Trish Santer won the Chorus Cup, Ros Anderson won the best Song or PoemQuaich, Robin Wilson picked up the Instrumental prize, and Katelynn Wallace won the Under 16s category.
Davey and Viv were keen to thank all the helpers and sponsors who made the events possible. Viv said: “We had an absolutely super weekend, and loved the Scott folk dressed up – it gave a real festival atmosphere, truly amazing. We thoroughly enjoyed it all: a great session, and great folk. Thank you again for all your hard work. It was a huge success.”