Pageant draws to a close after 80 years

The Galloway Pageant is no more after a lack of interest forced its committee to declare the local tradition 
moribund this week.

The 80-year-old annual summer festival in and around Newton Stewart and Minnigaff has struggled for volunteers over recent years, and now its skeleton committee has 
announced it will not proceed in 2014.

The organisation of the family-oriented, week-long programme of free games and entertainment has been shunned by today’s com­munity, despite thousands of them turning out to take part in the fun during the week.

And what was once the much-fought over honour for a lucky local young lady – being crowned the Queen of Galloway – is a position which has been increasingly hard to fill.

Various attempts to conjure up local support for this year’s pageant, originally set for the week of July 13-19 and returning to its traditional home of Minnigaff Park, has been met with a lack of interest and silence, so chairwoman Diann Hughes announced this week that she is no longer prepared to carry the burden.

She said: “We handed out questionnaires over Christmas asking for help and what people wanted, but only seven 
came back with contact details for help. The public have spoken – or not – and I’m not prepared to keep it afloat if it’s not really what people want.”

At a meeting this week, only four people turned up – one of whom handed in her resignation. It was decided to hold an extraordinary general meeting in the McMillan Hall on February 4 at 7pm, when the process to wrap up business will begin.

Diann added: “If scores of folk turn out at that meeting to keep it going, then great. But if not, it’s over.”

Cree Valley Community Council chairman John McNaught said: “This is a sad state of affairs. Having been involved with the pageant for many years myself, I know what hard work it is. But it is generally appreci­ated by the public although people don’t get involved for that reason.

“Becoming involved can be good fun and fulfilling to know that you’re doing something worthwhile for the community at the same time as keeping a traditional event going. I really hope people step up to the challenge and attend the EGM. Promises are no good and it is only people 
attending meetings and becoming fully committed that will save the pageant from extinction.”

For more information on the meeting or the pageant or to offer assistance, call Diann on 01671 402251.

In the same week, organisers of a similar gala in the community of Wigtown have discussed reducing their programme to a single weekend. See page seven for full report.