Preparations for the Hamefarin in June are well in hand, although the event is now expected to cost the council almost 50 per cent more than first envisaged.
A report due to be considered at next Thursday’s SIC development committee now puts the estimated net cost at £111,990, well above the figure of £74,685 projected in October 2008. That does not include the time spent on the project by council staff.
According to SIC head of business development Douglas Irvine, who compiled both reports, the increase is mainly due to an under-estimation of expenditure on a parade, promotional activities and drama.
It is expected that as many as 500 people will be returning to the isles for the Hamefarin, which officially lasts from Monday 14th to Saturday 26th June, many of them from places as far afield as Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The event will coincide with the annual Flavour of Shetland festival and the junior inter-county sports competition, and also include bus tours, exhibitions, a music tribute to the late Tom Anderson, a dance, a Viking parade and galley burning, church services and other sports activities.
A website – Shetlandhamefarin.com – and other promotional material have been produced and quarterly newsletters distributed to over 700 names on an electronic database.
Mr Irvine said that, based on a visitor survey, Hamefarers were expected to stay for 14 nights and spend between £386,000 and £512,000.
This year’s event is the 50th anniversary of the original Hamefarin, staged in 1960 following an exodus of people in the 1950s and at a time when Shetland’s future prospects looked poor. Links and legacies are still evident and were reinforced by a silver anniversary in 1985 and a more limited millennium event.
Mr Irvine said: “We are now entering the intensive period of work in the organising and more time will have to be spent on the event as the date approaches.
“It is extremely important that the Hamefarin 2010 lives up to its billing as a major event in Shetland’s history so that it acts as a catalyst for engaging with Shetland diaspora for generations to come and leaves the legacy that the 1960 event did.”