Noel Donaldson On The 2010 Wick Gala
LOCAL journalist Noel Donaldson has been getting a flavour of this year's Wick gala 2010, from its programme
WICK's annual gala, which gets underway shortly, promises to be one of the best ever.
Traditionally, the festivities will gather pace with the climax to the opening day, on Saturday July 24, the crowning of Queen Angela Gray taking place in the Royal burgh's Market Square.
Her coronation takes place at 7pm, and accompanying her, will be her attendants, India Morrow and Lauren Green, her court, Kaitlin Gunn, Kerry Plowman, Abigail Duncan and Kirstin Gunn. The Herald is Aidan Sutherland.
This year's guest speaker needs no introduction. Miss Anne Dunnett, the Lord Lieutenant of Caithness, is a "Weeker" 'boarn' and bred, and will doubtless set the scene for a flying start to the festivities. Master of Ceremonies, too, is a kenspeckle figure, Eric Farquhar.
The ceremonials over, the royal carriage will take Queen Angela Gray and her attendants, at the head of a procession of decorated floats, accompanied by the Wick Royal British Legion, Scotland, Pipe Band, on a min-tour of the town, arriving at the Assembly Rooms for the prizegiving. Despite perpetual warnings about the dangers of youngsters nipping in and out of the floats to pick up the pennies, the practice continues. The drivers can't see what is happening directly beneath them and although the vehicles are travelling slowly, the risk of an accident is great. Let's not tinge a happy event with an unwelcome accident...or worse. Earlier in the day, sees the more daring, cross the river without getting their feet wet...the CLIC Sargent Children's Cancer Charity's sponsored zip slide. That's just one of several of the day's attractions at the Riverside which include a car boot sale, a kids' bungee run, a gladiator challenge, an assault course, street football, face painting, music and a barbecue. You certainly can't say the gala is short on variety!
It's back to the Assembly Rooms, on Sunday, for a display of model trains, boats, cars and buses, between 10.30am and 4pm which is certain to attract an army of youngsters...and, doubtless, a good few dads, into the bargain. The blessing of the fishing fleet takes place at the harbour at 3pm. Nowhere as many vessels at in bygone years but it's a tradition that is well worth preserving.
Maintaining the momentum on Monday is a special fun event for the residents at the Riverside Nursing Home which is repeated at the Seaview Nursing Home later in the day. There's a chance to view the dramatic cliff scenery on a seacoast tour. Bowling and cycling competitions take place in the evening, at the Riverside, along with a gymkhana and, if you are not feeling so energetic, then local photographer, Janet McDonald will take you on another, more leisurely kind of slide...a slide show trip down memory lane, with her magic lantern look at the Wick of yesteryear, its places and faces. I have seen the show before and can recommend it.
As I indicated, I am only giving a flavour of the gala and would refer you to one or other of our local newspapers for all the details of times etc.
On Tuesday there's fun days at the Laurandy Centre and Pulteney House, a baby show and the ever popular, fancy dress competition at Braehead, a darts match, whist and to finish the hectic round of events, a Div Ye Mind slide show, by Harry Gray.
You'll need to retire early to bed, for Wednesday is every bit as busy with a quilters and WRI handicrafts exhibition in the Assembly Rooms, a children's walking treasure hunt, splashdance/deep water aerobics at the Wick pool, plus a Wick Academy v Brora Rangers friendly, at Harmsworth Park and a bottle top bingo, plus the pipe band summer show in the old parish church hall.
You'll need your vivizulas again on Thursday when Wick High School's all-weather pitch hosts another soccer encounter, this time between primary school sides P3 to P7 which leaves you plenty of time to join Caithness Chest and Heart Support walk round Wick, with guide, Harry Gray, at 2.30pm It's an opportunity to find out a bit more about the town we live in. If you are anything like me, you tend not to study your hometown...it's something you always intend to do, but never get round to it. In the evening, the Camps Bar unveils the C-factor, which, I assume is karaoke.
Another early night is advised, for, on Friday, there's a further event at the Wick pool, a children- only Abba Disco with a special prize for the best Abba look-alikes, and, at 8pm, the "senior" Abba Tribute performers take the stage at the Assembly Rooms. If the gig early in the year is anything to go by, it's certain to be a capacity crowd attraction. I heard the group first time round and I'm not going to miss it. I have to admit, I was a bit sceptical as to whether they could emulate their famous idols...but they did. Some female members of the ardent fans turned out, dressed up as Abba's two famous frontline singers so it might be an idea to award prizes for that one too.
It goes without saying that you'll need another early night prior to Saturday's grand finale...street football at the Riverside car park, a pipe band parade in the Market Square, and another crowd-puller, the barbecue and music extravaganza. It says here, in the programme..."Watch the fireworks display while enjoying a tasty kipper". I can smell it now...
I've covered a few Wick galas and, you know, come hail, rain, or shine, good times or bad, Weekers always put trials and tribulations aside and let their hair down. As you know, the gala committee have had a few of those tts, on the financial front, but things are now on the up and up. The committee is grateful to you, the public, for your loyal support during the difficult times and make special mention of it in their programme, thanking first of all, Wick shopkeepers and traders who donated prizes, annually, and the many volunteers who help behind the scenes to ensure the event's success, year in, year out concluding: "Our thanks also goes to you, the public, for your continued support and never ending generosity."
In times when change almost seems to be the order of the day, it's heart-warming to know that the gala is a constant and that the gala committee can count on that continuity. The gala, which has it roots in our herring heritage is an vital part of the town's identity. Long may its queens reign!
From the 2009 Wick Gala
To see all of the photos from the 2009 Gala go to -