heavy penalty for smugglers

Judge Dennis Reid and exciseman Davy Hunter will bring history to life in Ballantrae
Judge Dennis Reid and exciseman Davy Hunter will bring history to life in Ballantrae

Citizens of the ancient coastal village of Ballantrae may have enjoyed a peaceful existence in recent times but that is all set to change for four days this August as “Smuggler Fever” hits this South Ayrshire community.

It may seem like a pretty, law-abiding, former fishing village but delve into Ballantrae’s not too distant past and tales of shipwrecks, daring rescues, smugglers and irate excisemen abound.

And it is this unique past as a port of call for contraband dealers that is being celebrated with a unique Festival to be held from 21 - 24 August this year.

The Smugglers Festival, believed to be the first ever held in Scotland will draw on the popular tradition of “Scarecrow Festivals” with local community groups, schools and householders being encouraged to create smuggler scarecrows which will then be planted in houses, gardens and business premises throughout the village to create a fascinating “Smugglers Trail”.

Thereafter a series of events, involving actors and local worthies in costume will encourage participants to hunt the smugglers down, witness and take part in a mock trial, and then participate in a fun day at which the miscreants will receive their just desserts.

The many and varied events will include a visit from author Frances Wilkins whose new book “Ballantrae’s Smuggling Story” will be launched during the four day festival. The fun and games will culminate in a Smugglers Folk Night on 24 August.

The brainchild of the Ballantrae Development Group – a sub group of the Ballantrae Community Council - the Festival will bring together the schools in Colmonell and Ballantrae, and local community groups to promote the village and boost funds.

Smugglers’ Festival organiser, Andy McAlpine said: “Last year we hosted a stage of the Olympic Torch Relay, Diamond Jubilee Celebrations and a fantastic Village Gala Week.

“We were delighted with the response to these events and decided to look for other opportunities to celebrate our village and its unique heritage. The smugglers seemed an ideal theme to explore.”

The Ballantrae Smugglers Festival will run from Wednesday 21 until Saturday 24 August 2013. For further details contact: Andy McAlpine at andy.mcalpine@btinternet.com