Under a black leaden sky with a strong north westerly blowing a force 6, the long awaited delivery of smuggled goods arrived.
Casks of wine, and sacks of tea, salt and tobacco – all illegal – arrived in Ballantrae on Monday evening.
Local landowners appeared, furious at the smuggling racket, but they were distracted by the ladies of the village and locked away in a fisherman’s shed while the village gathered to whisk away the cargo…
The children of the village helped to load the barrels and sacks on horses and carts and flat bed barrows before following the procession through the village. Goods were dropped at the door of the Chair of the Community Council and the Church Treasurer on the way. For some time the Minister and the Doctor have been suspected of being involved in smuggling and indeed our spies say money actually changed hands as each received and haggled over their delivery and the quality of the last shipment. The parade, with everyone in period costume, continued down Main Street to Craigiemnains where most of the goods were hidden away for onward transportation.
Not all of it left the village however. Some of the fine wines were sampled in the “Smugglers Arms” (the community hall) the following evening while the authorities continued to search for the hidden goods during Tuesday and well into Wednesday.
On Wednesday the children of Ballantrae and Colmonell Primary Schools (and their teachers) will go round the “Smugglers’ Trail” to see the Smugglers Scarecrows, set out to confuse the Exciseman, and produce their very own Smuggling Storybook. In the evening, at 7pm, a Secret Film Screening of a family film – but not for the faint hearted or very young children - will take place in “The Smugglers Arms”.
On Thursday 21 August at 7.30pm at the Smugglers’ Arms historian and author Frances Wilkins, will ask “Was your ancestor a smuggler, a customer for smuggled goods or a Revenue Officer?” and bring to life the stories of the Ballantrae families involved in smuggling.
On Friday 22 August at 7.30pm descendants of those smuggling families will celebrate having deceived the Exciseman, and perform songs, music, poetry, and smuggling stories at the Smugglers Arms. Performers include pupils from Colmonell and Ballantrae who will sing smuggling songs. The audience will also hear the winning entries from the Smugglers Creative Writing Competition sponsored by the Carrick Gazette. But just watch out – the Exciseman is on the prowl, looking for the Minister and Doctor…
Finally on Saturday 23 August, the village will come together for the Village Fayre, starting at 11am with a Craft Fayre and “Smuggler Sam’s Activity Area for children starting at 1.30pm. There will also be an opportunity to follow “The Smugglers Trail, enjoy street performers throughout the village, and enjoy refreshments in Craigiemains Home and Garden Centre and BRICC House – both on Main Street. The festival will end, as it began, by the sea, as the villagers gather to light a beacon, signalling that they’re ready for another shipment of contraband.