It seems hardly possible that almost fifteen years have passed since the community at the Isle of Whithorn laid the foundations of an annual celebration of the area’s rich heritage of farming, fishing and food.
What began as a small event in 2001 captured the imagination of locals and visitors alike, and it soon became evident that that many were coming back to the Isle each year, making it in every sense an informal reunion or homecoming. This year’s Isle Hamefairin’, on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 July, will be the culmination of many hundreds of hours of hard work by a dedicated team of volunteers, will be held around the magnificent new Saint Ninian’s centre with its tearoom and completely renovated village hall. Isle Futures, the community’s regeneration charity, with generous support from the Year of Scottish Food & Drink 2015 programme, has planned a two-day event which will be graced by an additional marquee alongside on the village green.
On the Saturday, starting from midday, this will be the focus for the ‘Great Isle Pancake Bake-Off’ contest, a tribute to the long-standing fame gained by the Hamefairin’ ladies over the years for both the quality and quantity of their toothsome delicacies. It’s a competition that’s open to adults and youngsters to come and make their favourite pancake, in their choice of style – sweet, savoury, creamy, fruity – the more imaginative the better, and there will be plenty of help from the resident experts! Book a slot by phoning 01988 500100. With all the current interest in baking there will be opportunities to learn cake decorating skills, as well as the finer art of chocolate making. There’ll be opportunities for wine tasting as well as beer and cheese sampling, courtesy of some of the producers who will be open for business from 10am on the Hamefairin’ Sunday, when more than thirty exhibitors will be coming to show and offer some of the best food and craft products in the region.
This year the traditional Flower Festival that’s been held as part of the Isle Hamefairin’ makes a welcome return. Throughout the weekend in the newly renovated and reopened Isle Church and Maritime Heritage Centre there will be an especially themed series of floral displays celebrating ‘Times Gone By’, and which will be complemented by artefacts and photographs.
In a similar nostalgic vein at 6pm on the Saturday night, (but without the need to build air-raid shelters and rig blackouts), there’s a rip-roaring Forties Night, with the lively and highly talented trio ‘The Ragtime Dolls’. It’ll be a chance to dance (maybe even do a Palais ‘Glide’) to many of the old 1940s tunes, including songs by the Andrews sisters, and there’ll be a tasting of 40s food, all for £5. Come dressed to suit the period – it’ll make the whole evening even greater fun, and book early to avoid disappointment (01988 500100). Sirens at 9pm!