By MARK BURGESS
THIS year’s Scalloway Gala was hailed a great success on what was surely the hottest day of the year, attracting hundreds of people to the fun events and activities.
Fraser Park was mobbed on Saturday with the huge numbers of visitors and Main Street had a truly continental air about it with local hostelries providing outdoor tables and chairs leading to the village being dubbed “The Costa del Scallowa’”.
After the opening on Friday by Guizer Jarl Leslie Henderson the Gala Princess, Samantha Gray, was crowned, attended by Leah Setrice and Jenny Irvine, and the traditional gala flag was raised.
The Eeela competition was popular with 31 anglers taking part and the first of three performances by Orkney band Liberty took place in the hall. Liberty were formerly known as Shogun and have long been popular in Scalloway.
Saturday literally kicked-off with the under-10 football tournament, in which nine teams took part, followed by the usual tombolas and other activities in and around Fraser Park. There were so many visitors that the well-stocked tombolas were close to running out of prizes by the end of the day.
The piano bashing event, resurrected after an absence of several years, was a particular crowd-pleaser, drawing over 100 spectators for the display of brute force between Scalloway and Burra.
The teams had to reduce their pianos to a size small enough to fit in a wheelbarrow and deliver them over a short distance to the skip provided. Scalloway may have technically won but it was officially considered a tie as Burra managed to smash not only their piano but their sledgehammer, requiring them to resort to using rocks and anything that came to hand to complete the task.
Few will forget the sight of Marvin Inkster’s rock-wielding display of demolition, and the team’s ingenuity and determination was rewarded with the draw.
More sedately, in the pet show Mark Fullerton won with a red setter from a variety of cats, dogs and even a tiny Shetland pony foal, all judged by Davy Robertson of Gott.
There were more zany antics in the three-legged fancy-dress beer race which had a number of entrants but none more memorable than the Trondra men’s “five-legged” entry which entertained crowds as the three men tried in vain to co-ordinate their movements between stops.
The scrapheap challenge raft race was an inspired variation on an old favourite in which the entrants had to build their raft on site before propelling it through the harbour under their own steam. Two teams took part with valiant efforts at raft building which left one team almost instantaneously sunk and the other eventually requiring a tow to compete the course.
Football matches continued throughout the day with the under-10 tournament eventually won by Thistle, with Whitedale coming second. That was followed by a five-a-side competition with impromptu teams competing in the afternoon.
The procession was livened up by the turnout of local band Scaldin Bragg which provided fantastic musical entertainment, gaining a prize for the effort.
The street was lined by a substantial number of viewers in the balmy evening and the Scalloway Hotel deserves a mention for their outdoor table provision that seated a large number of people for the event.
The open-air dance in the evening had a relatively low turnout compard to previous years but local Levellers tribute band the Revellers, supported by rock band the Mindsetters, gave good performances for those who did attend. Meanwhile in the Scalloway Legion, Liberty gave their second performance to a packed venue.
On Sunday there was a fancy dress hockey match in the park which, though not as highly attended as the football, still drew a good crowd for the annual battle of the sexes with barbecue and beer tent still present.
There were pool and darts competitions in the Scalloway Boating Club with Colin Irvine coming out tops in the pool and Willum Gray winning the darts. Later on there was the third gig of the weekend by Liberty to another filled venue.
The organisers were left sunburnt and exhausted after the action-packed weekend and are already making plans and bookings for next year’s 20th anniversary gala. As part of that they are seeking photographs, information and former gala princesses for a nostalgic display in the hall to mark the occasion.
The committee is also keen to attract new members and volunteers for the event, without whom the gala would not have been possible, and wish to thank all those who helped out this year, including Leslie Henderson and his squad, those who manned the barbecue, the boys who put up the bunting and a particular mention to JHB for ensuring that the building works at Fraser Park were made safe and tidy to allow the event to take place.
Those wishing to help out next year, or with photos or other nostalgia from the past 19 years, should contact Julie Jamieson on 880906.