Dalkeith Festival still going strong after over half a century

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Entertaining the town for more than half a century, organisers hope this year’s Dalkeith Festival will be the biggest and best yet.

Formerly known as the Dalkeith Barbecue, the festival began in 1965 and has been held every year since.

This year’s event is on Saturday, August 5, with the parade leaving the east end of Dalkeith High Street at 12.30pm before the activities get under way in King’s Park.

Margot Russell, festival secretary, is delighted with what itwill offer to locals this year.

She said: “We always say it’s the only festival on the family calendar in Dalkeith.

We take on the responsibilty to keep it getting better, offering different attractions every year.

“We have got Broadsword World War Two vehicles and the Clan Cycle display team, just a couple of the great shows spread throughout the day.

“And the tug of war we introduced a couple of years ago is very popular with the local pubs wanting to win the trophy.”

As well as shows in the ‘central area’ there will also be a funfair, a beer and cocktail tent, Midlothian Amateur Boxing tent, food and refreshments, stalls, a bowling competition, a football competition and a rugby demonstration.

And, for £3, kids can get a wristband which gives them unlimited use of face painting and pony rides, as well as access to a range of inflatable activities including Laserquest, sumo wrestling, bouncing boxing, bouncy castles, a toddler area and much more.

The festival will also feature the Black Diamond FM Roadshow, as well as displays from Borthwick and District Pipe Band, Fancy Footwork, Party Dance Mania and Loanhead Disco Dancers.

Margot admitted that fitting so much into the park can have its challenges.

She said: “You think it’s a big park until your start filling it up.

‘‘Obviously we can’t put ponies next to noisy stuff – it’s things like that we have to be mindful of when planning.

“Every year is different.

‘‘It’s difficult to say if it’s the best this year – we will have to wait and see, but we certainly hope so.

‘‘We have put in a lot of hard work this year, as we do every year.

‘‘We sit down and discuss what we are going to do, taking feedback from the Facebook page for example.”

The secretary praised locals for their continued support, adding: “Irrespective of wind, rain, whatever weather is thrown at us the people of Dalkeith and surround area always come out and that’s gutsy. Their support is very much appreciated by everybody on the committee.”

Margot added that the festival will be opened this year by the Trolls cartoon characters, as “they are more important to young people than the traditional personalities or politicians,”.

Margot also explained the fairly obvious reason for the festival’s name change, she said: “It must have been ten or 15 years ago we changed the name, because obviously we didn’t have a barbecue anymore – there hadn’t been one for years!”

Margot also thanked the festival’s sponsors, and pointed out that the festival committee of nine members currently has two teenagers on it.