The number 40 figured large in this year’s Glenfarg Folk Feast. It was the 40th Glenfarg Folk Feast and marked the 40th anniversary of the formation of Glenfarg Village Folk Club in 1978.
The club had assembled an impressive exhibition of memorabilia of the 40 year history showing Folk Feasts, club nights, weekends away, and other activities over the years – photos, programmes, guest lists, tee shirts, press cuttings, paintings by club member Jim Douglas, and videos. Several people who featured in these reminders of the past were in attendance this year and there were many comments about how much – or how little – club members and other visitors had changed over the years!
One highlight of the anniversary was the presentation of a ‘Landmark’ award by Simon Thoumire of Hands Up For Trad – this trophy will take a proud place in the club’s trophy cabinet.
The singer Tich Frier, one of the top names on the Scottish folk music scene, had been an original member of the folk club when it set up in 1978 and performed on the club’s opening night as a member of the band Bitter Withy. Tich has been a regular favourite at Glenfarg over the years and he appeared again in 2018 to provide a link between past and present.
For the anniversary weekend the club had gone out of its way to provide further links between then and now. There was a gathering of 30 or so former and current committee members including several former chairpersons and office holders who (mainly for reasons of distance) are not able to attend the club regularly - these included Jim McIver, John Calder, Athole Fleming, Bill Gillan and Alistair Brown. The club’s own singing group, The Farg Folk, who performed at this year’s Ceilidh Dance, included four club members from the original Farg Folk line up in 2003 – Duncan McNab, Philip Ponton, Hamish Grant and Stan Ginter, as well as special guest appearances from two other popular Farg Folk performers, Doris Rougvie and Jim McIver.
The music on offer this year was of an even higher standard than usual and the club had pulled the stops out to book eight top acts each of whom could have been headliners in their own right - Jimi Shandrix Experience Ceilidh Band, Tich Frier, Mairearad Green and Anna Massey, John Doyle, Boys of the Lough, Pauline Alexander and Sandy Stanage, Richard Digance, and the James Brothers and Emily Smith. Some of these were appearing at Glenfarg for the first time, others were returning following popular performances in the past. All were of the highest quality and ensured that everyone’s tastes were catered for.
As an indication of the attractiveness and quality of music on offer, the three main ticketed events (Ceilidh Dance and two concerts) were all sold out a couple of weeks in advance, something that has rarely if ever happened before!
Seeing and hearing top performers was not the only feature of the Folk Feast and there were many opportunities for those attending to participate directly themselves. There were eleven high quality entries for the Original Song Competition. This year’s theme was ‘Party Time’ and the winner was Dave Godden with ‘A’body likes a party’. There were well attended formal singarounds and informal sessions over the whole weekend all around the Green Hotel and in other venues in Kinross including Loch Leven Brewery. There was a Fiddle Workshop tutored by Charlie Stewart, recent Young Scots Traditional Musician of the Year, a local lad from Glenfarg who first performed floor spots at the club while still a young teenager. An entertaining ‘In Conversation with Cathal MacConnell’ offered an illuminating and enjoyable discussion of Cathal’s life in music and of the history of Boys of the Lough.
The club’s annual fun event is the World Puff-a-Box Championship, in which competitors blow the inner tray of an empty matchbox as far as they can. This year’s Puff-a-Box champion was Bob McCarron, the ladies winner was Aileen Clarke, while the junior winner was Aileen’s daughter Ciara Clarke.
Club Chairman Hugh Toner went out of his way to thank the club’s main sponsors Red Barn Studio whose principals Stuart and Gillian Duncan have been active supporters of the club and its Folk Feast for many years, and also to thank event sponsors Kenny’s Music and Ian and Alison Norcross. Hugh emphasised how much the club owes to committee members past and present and to those who volunteer to act as stewards and helpers both at the Folk Feast and throughout the year. Speaking for everyone connected with Glenfarg Village Folk Club, Hugh recognises what has been achieved in the past forty years and looks forward to the next forty years being as successful.
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