This year was our 10th Anniversary of the annual Fisherfolk Festival and we had a fun packed weekend of events…there was something for everyone.

This year we were celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Fisherfolk Festival. This is the Seaboard’s annual festival where the opportunity to share with the community and further afield a little of the history and culture of the Seaboard Villages. Over the years we benefited from the knowledge and experience of those who could remember just how these villages were and their contributions have made the festival what it is, whether their memories were around the fishing, everyday life, faith, folklore and so much more.  Sadly much has changed, that generation with all the knowledge of how things were are coming to an end, that is how it is in most places, time moves on and day to day life changes also.  Those halcyon days, they have passed.  However, what the past years has allowed is the gathering digitally of masses of very important social history in the form of information, photographs, stories and film footage which we now have and hopefully we can begin to make more innovative use of.  So on this 10th Anniversary the Fisherfolk Festival it is time to ‘Hang Up the Boots’ and a new chapter of the Fisherfolk will begin, and in what form is still at the planning stage.   

This year we were most grateful for the support from Glenmorangie House and Glenmorangie Distillery, who generously supplied their world renowned famous Glenmorangie 10 Year Old which was served up on the Friday night concert, where a toast was raised in remembrance of late Councillor Alasdair Rhind.  Charlie Ross led the tribute and spoke highly of the dedication and commitment Alasdair gave to all the Ward.  

We also thank Highland Fine Cheese for their most excellent selection of cheeses, again a world renowned product from the area.  Indeed we should be very proud that such quality products are produced on our very doorstep.

On the Friday we held the Variety Show in the afternoon and a Cheese & Wine Concert in the Evening .  The talent of Hilton of Cadboll School Band lead by Susan Bain and also the Scottish Country Dancers from the school was just fantastic.  What work and dedication went into these performances, Seaboard really has got talent! It was not all youth there were some  ‘old timers’ to give us a tune or two and the Port Ceilidh Band, although depleted in number entertained us with familiar and not so familiar ceilidh tunes, even inviting another old timer up to do a turn.   So a big thanks to Davy, Donald and Richard for giving their time and talent to come and entertain us.

Carrie Forbes fairly got us all in the mood for singing – and she very skilfully taught us a Gaelic song where the chorus was simple and after a few repetitions we, the audience, were able to join in with her.  Carrie works from time to time at Hilton of Cadboll Primary school and she certainly had the knack of getting the children to do exactly what she wanted them to do as they performed actions to her next couple of songs.

Finally, the act we were hearing about for some time now, ‘Devil’s Wrath’, took to the stage and they owned it.  As their name suggests they played rock.  The band is made up of 4 young boys from the village, Levi, Kieran, Darren & Basile. They had the time of their lives and that enthusiasm spilled over into the audience.  The kids meet in the Scout Hut each week for band practice where Jamie and Isla work with them and help them with their arrangements and sound.  No doubt we will hear more from these 4 guys soon as they begin to pick up gigs.

The Evening Concert was very well attended and it kicked off with the tribute to Alasdair Rhind followed by a performance of a tune, A New Star Over Tain written by musician Ronnie Ross, a dear friend of Alasdair and played by Olivia, Debbie, Louise & Rhona on the fiddles.  Then the entertainment began and the Northern Lights Singers got up and went straight into a very lively sea shanty followed by  3 other songs, the last being The Road to Balintore.

Liam Ross then took to the stage and had us in the palm of his hand for the next 30 minutes or so.  His guitar playing is just mind-boggling and his banter and interaction with the audience was second to none.  We very much look forward to having Liam back on 21th September this year for his own concert, a date worth putting in your diary.

The second half of the evening was performances from Olivia, Debbie, Louise and Rhona, a different style to Liam but equally as entertaining.  Charlie Ross who was MC for the evening made comment to the fact that the teaching of music to our young is in good hands as these four women have given years and years of teaching strings in this part of the world.  At one point Macie Dundas one of Debbie Ross’s students and Olivia’s niece was given the opportunity to join them on stage and play a tune – this was a wonderful experience for Macie and one she will always remember.

Saturday arrived, the sun came out and the people came out and it was all go from 11.00am until 4.00pm. Various local performers took to the open mic and entertained for most of the day, these included members of the Seaboard Sessions, Hilton of Cadboll School Band,  the Bain Family made up of mum Susan and children Rory, Hannah and Jack, followed by Devil’s Wrath who gave a strong performance and were not fazed by some technical issues at the start, these youngsters received rapturous applause and you could see just how much that meant to them.  

Outside during the day we had Will Paterson showing folks how to splice rope and mend nets, this has always been a favourite part of the Festival. 

This year the Portmahomack Coastal Rowing Club took their skiff to the Festival and had it on show for all to see its beautiful craftsmanship, which they themselves built , they also hoped to encourage others to get involved in the pass-time also.  On show were the drawings for how the skiff was built and the members present had every right to be proud of her.  There was also an opportunity for whoever wished to have a wee go in the boat as the members took the boat down Balintore Harbour for a sail.  Many thanks to Portmahomack Coastal Rowing Club for joining in on the activities of the day.  

Another attraction on the day was the Whisky Tasting held in the Heritage Room, this was run by Glenmorangie House and there were 4 sessions in all each lasting 30mins, happy faces went in and even happier faces came out!  One American lady said to me, “that was just fantastic, I could go again”.   I did see her pop back in and purchase some product, I think she is now a fan of the Glenmorangie brand. 

Also during the day video footage was being screened on a loop on TV’s in both the Seaboard Centre and John Ross Visitor Centre along with albums spanning many years, including more recent photograph contributions from Hilton of Cadboll Primary School from early 70’s.  Then it was time to have a short break and set up for the Down Memories Lane film at 6.30pm which would round off the day along with the drawing of the main raffle.

On Sunday Rev Iain MacAskill took charge of both the Songs of Praise in the afternoon in the Paterson Fishing Stores, where Robert Allan gave a short message and Olivia Fraser (Ross) and Jimmy Gunn led the praise.   Then at 7.30pm the Gospel Concert was led by the Highland Harvest Band with guest performers Olivia and Maureen Ross.  Both events were well attended and it was a time of fellowship.  

Three days of events need a lot of organising and many hands willing to help. This is the opportunity to thank publically all those volunteers who were willing to help with tables and chairs etc which needed to go out and in for the many different activities and tidying up after each event – you were the salt of the earth .  Then there were those who were willing to sit and sell raffles, at the end of the day on Saturday we only had a handful of raffle books left so thank you so much. There are so many to thank and I fear that if I start naming folks I will miss someone out and cause offence, so I will not, but be assured your help was greatly needed and appreciated.  

Finally, thank you to the staff and directors of the Seaboard Centre.  Volunteers, staff and management worked so well together and for that we must be grateful.

The ‘Boots are now Hung Up’ .