From Sid Ambrose, Wigtownshire Arts Hub Convenor
The sun shone and they sang songs at Stranraer’s annual Park Fest event over the 22nd and 23rd of August. An estimated 2,500 people descended on Agnew Park to enjoy the mix of dance displays, magic shows, live music, funfairs and stalls.
The event was supported by the Town Centre Regeneration Through the Arts Stranraer Commission, which was established by Dumfries & Galloway Council and Creative Scotland in association with Dumfries & Galloway Chamber of the Arts.
|Robyn Stapelton Park Fest performer and winner of the BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year award.|
It was a really exciting project to be involved in – the most Westerly musical festival in our region which is also made unique by its shoreline site and having the stunning Loch Ryan as a backdrop. During the weekend event l could not help but thinking that Father Ted from the television series would be right at home at Park Fest, it had a real all ages community feel to it with the majority of attendees coming from Wigtownshire and the rest of the region.
Through the commission we were able to assist Park Fest by helping secure a headline act in the form of the Neville Staple Band, they wowed the crowds and gave the festival an international feel by playing Jamaican inspired Ska style music.
Park Fest kicked off in style with the Young Guns night on Friday, this is used as a showcase for young musicians with the youngest performer appearing on stage at the tender age of 13. Styles of music ranged from Indie to Folk, Rock, and Heavy Metal.
The main billing on Saturday had such a packed programme it was difficult to define the highlights. The ever popular Battlefield band was superb, and local lass Robyn Stapleton who recently won a prestigious traditional music award, received a warm welcome from the crowd. Folk duo Michaela and Lucy melted hearts whilst Wigtownshire acts, Southbound, Elastic Band and Bad Reputation certainly held their own, The Yahs hailing from Dumfries really impressed everyone with an electric performance full of pouts and posturing.
|Neville Staple backstage|
Headline act Neville Staple and his band had everyone on their feet dancing to ska classics, and at one point inspiring a mass ska conga line to weave its way around the marquee. By the end of the night, The Ruckstars had the packed audience partying like no other band can.
Park Fest is primarily organised as a fundraiser for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution
During the Saturday afternoon, Janice McCaig from Portpatrick was presented with a well deserved award for her tireless fundraising efforts for theorganisation.
The weekend also saw cheerleader performances, ice bucket challenges and death defying stunts from Murray the Magician.
Mandy Green, the event organiser thanked all who supported Park Fest, which is run solely by volunteers who put in a huge amount of hard work to support a very worthy cause.
She said to me: “It is a great way to raise funds for our Lifeboat, and l love to see Stranraer Rock. There are so many to thank for their support time and efforts, from Mr Farrol and his Tractor, to accommodation providers, food suppliers, plant hire Dumfries & Galloway Council, local business and numerous other organisations the list is endless, but needless to say it is all so much appreciated”.
The Through the Arts Stranraer Commission has also provided support to Armed Forces Day, Sausagefest and helped secure The Sensational Mary Barclay Band as the headline act at a community consultation event for Stranraer Grainstore.