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Second Weirfest a Roaring Success

Thousands of visitors flocked to a sun-kissed Balmaha Bay on Loch Lomondside on Saturday 18 June to enjoy the second ‘Weirfest’, the annual festival set up to honour Scotland’s most-loved mountain man, Tom Weir, with a mixture of music, entertainment and family fun beside his iconic statue.

The event, held with the assistance of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, was headlined on the main musical stage by popular Scottish entertainers Jimmie MacGregor and Alistair MacDonald, as well as the Loch Lomond Ukulele Orchestra who added colour to the programme with red toorie hats in abundance. Visitors were also able to enjoy various wildlife demonstrations, while the chance to throw wet replica versions of Tom’s signature red toorie hat and following Tom’s Discovery Trail added some extra fun to the day.

The work of 300 school children from the 6 primary schools around the loch was celebrated with an exhibition showcasing their drawings and stories on the wonders of the Loch Lomond. A 28 page booklet on the theme of Tom Weir’s Loch Lomond Wonderland was also launched at the event to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Tom writing special features on Loch Lomond in the Scots Magazine.

Gordon Watson, chief executive of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Authority, in attendance to launch the booklet, said:This publication is an important addition to the National Park’s educational resources, as it will help introduce young people to the natural and cultural heritage wonders of Loch Lomond and some of Tom’s great writings on the loch. An important feature of the booklet is a series of spreads featuring what is special about Loch Lomond to the hundreds of local children who attend local primary schools and I am delighted so many of them got so enthusiastically involved in this project and learnt more about what is on their doorstep.’’

Rhona Weir, at the age of 96, was also able to join in the day’s events at the site, which has attracted over 120,000 visitors since the statue of her late husband was unveiled in December 2014. It has recently been augmented with the launch of a new mountain garden and storyboards which tell Tom’s story and introduce visitors to the heritage of Balmaha Bay.

Weirfest, which was first staged in May 2015, was organised jointly by the Tom Weir Memorial Group and Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs, both of whom helped to establish the statue site and continue to be responsible maintaining  it all year round.

Susan Taylor, Administrator of the Tom Weir Memorial Group, said: “This has been another fantastic day in the already-rich history of this site, which only became a reality 18 months ago but has already proven to be an enormous hit with so many visitors to this iconic part of Scotland. Tom Weir would be thrilled to see so many visitors to Loch Lomond on a summer day like today, and equally we are just as delighted with the turnout."

Friends Chairman James Fraser added: “We are delighted with the bumper turnout of people who came along to this year’s Weirfest. We are also grateful to all exhibitors, performers, volunteers and to Sandy Fraser and his team at the Oak Tree Inn who all contributed to making the day such a great success.

“The effort to maintain the Tom Weir Statue and picnic area goes on and the funding raised from Weirfest will help us to maintain this popular site to a high standard throughout the coming year.”

*Header image shows Gordon Watson, Rhona Weir and James Fraser launch Tom Weir’s Loch Lomond Wonderland Booklet at Weirfest, together with children from local primary schools around the Loch.

For further information contact Susan Taylor, Administrator of the Tom Weir Memorial Group on 07882 942945 -tomweirmemorial@yahoo.co.uk - or James Fraser, Chairman of the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs on 07894 908807 (jamesbfraser@aol.com).

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