Festival celebrates great chieftain o’ pudding race
A GROUP of dedicated volunteers have kicked off the start of the tourist season by hosting the third annual haggis festival.
Spean Bridge residents hosted the Highland Haggis Festival last weekend which saw more than 200 people celebrate Scotland’s national delicacy.
This year’s festival welcomed Lochaber residents as well as tourists, some from Germany, to enjoy all things haggis.
Eight-year-old Ruaridh Ste- phen, winner of the Design a Haggis-themed gondola competition, officially opened the festival with help from Hector the Haggis and Dougie Beck.
Spean Bridge Primary School hall was packed with stalls, all with local home-made crafts and foods, a haggis cafe serving up haggis pastry rolls, haggis pakora and traditional haggis, neeps and tatties, and there were a number of chefs in cooking demonstrations for a hungry audience.
This year was the first time the festival has been run without any funding. With a committee of just six volunteers, a huge amount of time and effort throughout last year went into fundraising the £5,000 needed to stage the event.
Committee member Deneil Snaith told the Lochaber Times: ‘Last year we had funding from the Big Lottery and the year before that we applied to the Highland Council for help, but these were one- off funding streams so this year we had to raise the money ourselves.
‘It cost more than £ 5,000 to put the festival on, and we held a number of fundraisers last year. We had a Christmas afternoon tea which was really popular, and we hosted a wine and beer tasting night, which we’ll be having another one of soon too.’
A whole host of haggis-related events and games took place.
Committee member Vanessa Martin said: ‘We have cookery demonstrations, a haggis fling, a haggis hunt and a children’s haggis recipe competition.’
Glenn Russell, of Russell’s Restaurant, kicked off the cookery demonstrations with a haggis and goats’ cheese cheesecake, and was followed by head chef at Inverlochy Castle, Andy Turnbull.
Deneil said she was pleased with the way the event had gone. She said: ‘It’s been really busy and everyone seems to be enjoying all the different types of haggis.’ She said the committee was desperately on the look-out for more volunteers, adding: ‘We really need to get more people involved with the festival. It’s not a huge amount of work. It gets a bit crazy the week leading up to it, but it all ends up being really fun, and the more you can share it out the better.’
Hector the Haggis was popular with the younger festival- goers.
Ruaridh Stephen opens the festival with help from Hector the Haggis and Dougie Beck.
Three-year- old George MacRae in the junior haggis ing with Glyn Davies.