Ever since moving to Bearsden I have been aware that it is a place of community however it wasn’t until the past weekend and the Bearsden Festival that it struck me that I hadn’t quite got that right. It wasn’t a place of community but a gathering place of communities the Festival changed all that, for the weekend at least.
A lot of hard work in the months previously had been done by a lot of willing and talented people. As the bunting fluttered, it all kicked off with the local primary schools taking part in a grand country dance festival before the music changed and a battle of bands took over. Meanwhile there was screams and laughter from the ghost walk as people learned about some of the history of the community, from Roman Centurions to the elder who fell out with the minister and swore he would never set foot on church ground again, arranging for his mausoleum door to open out onto common ground so that even in death he didn’t have to journey through the church grounds.
The Saturday saw sunshine and a buzzing Bearsden Cross. Hundreds of children searched for numbered spiders as the shops enjoyed bumper business with several traders reporting their best September days trade, ever! There were heritage trails, history walks, the wee art show, a crafts fair where people could try everything from lace making to having a go on a loom, from glass cutting to grabbing a paintbrush and creating a masterpiece. There was quiet space to think about peace and add to a community art installation, singing workshops, and more people milling about and stopping to chat with others than I had ever witnessed before. The cafes had stalls out on the pavements in festive red and white stripes and the cup cakes just kept selling out – I never got mine! Saturday rounded off with the Big Concert, with professional singers and those who had attended the afternoon workshops leading the community in singing songs from the musicals.
Sunday dawned with rain and wind, oh dear, the BBQ, the vintage cars, the potted sports, the bands. Well the vintage cars did have to cancel, however everything else went ahead. The BBQ moved indoors, a bit smokey but fun, and then the fuses blew, but the fun continued. The salsa band just kept on playing and no one, absolutely no one let the weather drag them down. Wellie throwing seemed very apt for the potted sports. The community worked and played and ate together. Then in the evening a Festival of Praise rounded off the weekend as all the strands were woven together in thanks and praise to God. It was exhausting and exhilarating, inspiring and challenging, rewarding and Community. Young and old, those of no faith and those of a variety of faiths, locals and visitors – one person commented; ‘This is the best thing to happen in Bearsden for a generation.’
One final thing. All the events were free, buckets around the place gave people the opportunity to make donations but there was no cost to anyone for joining in. Some said: ‘I would have paid for that.’ However we believe that had there been charges up front expectations would have been different and people might not have just popped along. So you might be wondering what about the cost of it all well, sums are still being done but it looks like donations have covered all expenses, isn’t God wonderful?