The first Loch Lomond Weirfest, also known as Scotland’s Red Hat Toorie Festival, will take place beside the legendary Tom Weir’s statue at Balmaha on Saturday, May 30 – and the organisers are appealing for festival goers to wear red and white toorie hats, just like Tom’s!
”The inaugural Weirfest will celebrate the life of Scotland’s most popular mountain man and the great outdoors,” said Susan Taylor, one of the Weirfest organisers and administrator of the Tom Weir Memorial Group. “We have tried to incorporate something for everyone, remaining true to the values of Tom Weir and his love of the great outdoors and the simple things in life.
“Entry to the event is free but we hope those attending will make generous donations to enable us to carry out further improvements at the Tom Weir statue site and there will, of course, be opportunities to purchase one of Tom’s signature red toorie hats for those who turn up at the event not wearing one.”
A grand finale against the scenic backdrop of Balmaha Bay
The music programme kicks off with accordionist Tom McIver at 10.45am and is followed by folk and ballad artists Linsey Aitken and Ken Campbell at 11.30am and the Loch Lomond Ukulele Orchestra at 12.15pm. One of the highlights of the day will be a special appearance by popular Scottish minstrel Alastair McDonald at 1.00pm, who will be followed by Alba Reil at 2.00pm and The Mighty Sparrahawk at 2.45pm, with a grand finale involving a number of the artists performing against the scenic backdrop of Balmaha Bay at 3.45pm.
As well as lots of toe-tapping tunes, Scottish food ambassador Christopher Trotter will be showcasing some of Tom’s favourite foods with a series of cooking demonstrations while Donald Nelson and Sion Barrington will entertain visitors with some Scottish storytelling. Other fun activities include woodcraft demonstrations and workshops, guided walks following in the footsteps of Tom Weir, a Weir’s Way treasure trail, competitions linked to Tom’s signature red and white toorie hat, and decorating his favourite snack – empire biscuits.
The main Weirfest site on the banks of the loch will also feature a number of craft stalls, food with a Tom Weir theme by the award winning team at the nearby Oak Tree Inn and the launch of the new range of Tom Weir statue and Loch Lomond merchandise.
In addition, birds of prey will be on show at the nearby National Park Visitor Centre over lunchtime, National Park Rangers will be providing a range of activities. and in the small theatre, there will be regular showings of the Loch Lomond episodes from Tom’s popular Weir’s Way series.
The statue is expected to attract 100,000 visitors in its first year
The festival takes place just as figures show that the statue of Tom Weir, who was best known for Weir’s Way and his monthly feature in The Scots Magazine, is proving incredibly popular. With almost 30,000 visitors since it was unveiled at the end of December, the statue of the prolific writer and broadcaster is expected to attract 100,000 visitors in its first year.
’The level of interest in the statue has exceeded all expectations,” said James Fraser, Chairman of the Friends of Lomond and The Trossachs.
The latest phase of site improvement works around the statue, which included the construction of an attractive bay viewpoint, raised pathways, memorial benches and a new Tom Weir’s Rest timber sign, have just been completed and were funded by the Friends of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs and the Tom Weir Memorial Group.
”We are delighted sufficient funds were raised to improve the bay viewpoint and, later in the year, we have plans to install story boards featuring the rich natural and cultural history of Balmaha Bay,” continued James Fraser. “We also hope to raise a further £20,000 to improve the neighbouring picnic site, which is now attracting large numbers due to the popularity of the Tom Weir statue.”
Look out for Tom’s monthly columns from the 1970s, uploaded here every Friday!
Take To The Water
Festival goers will be able to take the Weirfest waterbus service from Balloch and Luss
- Return tickets from Balloch cost £10 (children 5 and under free) and £8 return from Luss (children 12 and under £5, infants 5 and under free).
- Timetables for the waterbus can be seen on the Tom Weir facebook page or on www.lochlomondtrossachs.org.uk. Subject to demand, extra services will be provided.
- Services from Luss leave regularly from 9.50am and the last service arrives back at 4pm. It’s possible to link with the waterbus service by taking the train from Glasgow to Balloch.
- There are also bus services from Balloch to Balmaha: click here for more information.
Tom Weir Statue Appeal
The public appeal for the Tom Weir Statue site improvement works remains open, with £80,000 of the £100,000 target having been raised so far. Donations can be made online here.