Scotland’s National Book Town, with a population of under 1,000, is mustering an army of 120 volunteers to make this year’s 25th Wigtown Book Festival the most memorable yet.
The staging of the annual 10-day feast of storytelling, literature, poetry, debate, music and arts is a truly community-wide endeavour.
A small core of 10 staff, half aged under 30, provide a professional core for the festival and the other events run year-round by Wigtown Festival Company.
The volunteers do everything from stewarding events, distributing brochures and selling tickets to putting up visiting authors in their homes and driving them to and from railway stations and airports.
Many others, such as bookshop owners and accommodation providers, also play a vital role.
That’s not to mention the efforts of a large blue, furry creature who lives in the nearby woods and comes to the town to be the mascot for the Big Wig children’s literature festival that has been named after him.
Anne Barclay, Wigtown Book Festival, said: “This festival is so much of a community effort – it’s astonishing that we can muster an army of 120 volunteers from a town of less than 1,000 people.
“Wigtown Book Festival has become an important part of Scotland’s rich cultural life and without the volunteers it simply couldn’t happen.
“The commitment shown by them and our small group of staff is incredible. The way people have taken it to their hearts and devoted themselves to making it a success is astonishing. There are even some who have been part of every festival that’s taken place, right back to 1999.”
The festival, which runs from 22 September to 1 October in Scotland’s National Book Town, is expected to attract thousands of visitors.
Among this year’s attractions are:
- Nigel Planer – famously Neil from The Young Ones – talks about his magical novel Jeremiah Bourne In Time and also appears in a separate event to talk about his friendship with Fay Weldon
- Sarah Thomas – author of Queen K, lays bare the lives of the super-rich
- Pat Nevin – former footballer, pundit and bestselling author on Football and How to Survive It
- Katherine Rundell, author of Impossible Creatures (Big Wig event)
- Henry Dimbleby, author of Ravenous – former food Tsar discusses how the food industry is killing us
- Vanessa Woolf, That’s not my … (Big Wig event).
Beyond the author and other literary events there is also The Kist – where visitors can buy locally made products.
As the name suggests, it’s like a treasure chest full of treats including artwork, crafts, artisan beers, whiskies from local distilleries, textiles, sweets and many other delights.
Cathy Agnew, Chair of festival trustees, said: “We are incredibly proud of the way so many people give their time and energy – rolling up their sleeves to deliver one of the best events of its kind in the country – and we hope this year will be the best yet.
“It is only the volunteers and the small group of professional staff that make the festival possible. And it’s an event that is of huge value as it brings joy to thousands of people, supports literature and storytelling and has been highly successful in raising the profile of Wigtown, and Galloway, nationally and internationally.”
Starting in 1999, a central aim of the festival has been to help drive regeneration across a highly rural area which has seen a steep decline in its traditional industries.
In that time it has generated over £50 million for the regional economy and each year more than 10 times the town’s population (of just under 1,000) come along to enjoy the event.
Crucially the festival has provided a platform for artists, craft makers, food and drink producers, accommodation providers and bookdealers as well as authors.
Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events, VisitScotland, said: “EventScotland is delighted to be supporting the 25th anniversary edition of the Wigtown Book Festival through our International Funding Programme.
“For 10 days, Scotland’s National Book Town will provide a platform for literary celebration, discussion and ideas from well-known figures alongside local talent, as well as film, music and theatre performances.
“Community spirit is at the heart of this cultural gem and enthralling events such as Wigtown Book Festival further showcase Scotland’s profile as the perfect stage for events.”
- Pictures are free to use: Please credit Colin Tennant.
- Pic 01: Volunteers and staff are getting ready for this year’s 25th annual Wigtown Book Festival.
- Pics 02 and 03: Festival staff and Big Wig outside the Wigtown Book Festival headquarters: Pictured L-R Tracy Sheldon Box Office Supervisor, Laurie Bannister – Event Coordinator, Bee Williams – Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Lee Randall – Guest Festival Programmer, Big Wig, Anne Barclay – Operational Director, Andy Stewart – Producer (Children and Young People), Rosie Littler-Davis – Commercial Officer, Esther McGarva – Event Assistant (Children and Young People).
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EventScotland is working to make Scotland the perfect stage for events by securing and supporting an exciting portfolio of sporting and cultural events. It provides funding opportunities and access to resources and information to develop the industry.
EventScotland is a team within VisitScotland’s Events Directorate, the national tourism organisation, alongside Business Events and Development teams. For further information about EventScotland, its funding programmes and latest event news visit www.eventscotland.org or follow Twitter @EventScotNews and follow us on LinkedIn.
Picture by Colin Tennant.
About Creative Scotland
- Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit www.creativescotland.com. Follow us @creativescots and www.facebook.com/CreativeScotland.
For more about Wigtown Book Festival see www.wigtownbookfestival.com
For media information: Matthew Shelley at [email protected] or 07786 704299.
Wigtown Festival Company Ltd, 11 North Main Street, Wigtown, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland, UK, DG8 9HN © 1999 – 2018. Wigtown Festival Company Ltd is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status.
Scottish Charity No. SCO3798