Cupar’s Celebration … what a weekend!

Thousands of people came to town for Cupar’s Celebration Weekend 2021 – and organisers have hailed it a “resounding success” with discussions now taking place over whether the weekend might become an annual attraction in Cupar’s calendar.

The celebrations saw a whole host of events and activities delivered by a collaboration of 18 community groups and their small army of volunteers. This blog is a review of the weekend. We are delighted to share a short video that captures some of the day, hosted on CuparNow’s YouTube channel …

Medieval Cupar – a 21st Century Market Town

Led by Cupar Development Trust (CDT), the weekend’s town centre celebrations were designed to honour Cupar’s medieval history. Three Estates Cupar worked with CDT. The charity was set up to recognise and celebrate the influence of Cupar on Old Scots … the language of sixteenth century Scotland.

Five hundred years ago, the most important writer in Old Scots was Sir David Lindsay of The Mount estate – just outside Cupar. Celebrations on Saturday began at the market Cross – alongside a busy Fife Farmers Market – and those gathered heard a Proclamation of Welcome from the Lord-Lieutenant of Fife – read on his behalf by Mrs Evelyn Crombie, Deputy-Lieutenant, and present owner of The Mount estate.

Sir David had been Lord Lyon King of Arms to King James V, and Mrs Crombie welcomed to the podium his successor, Dr Joseph Morrow, the present Lord Lyon to her Majesty the Queen. He welcomed the large crowd that had gathered at The Cross – enjoying the ceremonies, recitations, trumpet fanfares, the Cupar & District Pipe Band – and, of course, the stalls at the market that included displays from the town’s history and heritage organisations including Cupar Development Trust, Three Estates Cupar, Cupar Museum & Heritage Centre and Fife Family History Society.

The Lord Lyon invited the well known author and broadcaster, Billy Kay, to read in the Sots tongue including Sir David Lindsay’s own Proclamation that the first performance of his play – Scotland’s first play, Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaitis – was to be performed on the slopes of Cupar’s Castle Hill on 7th June 1552.

Three Estates Cupar have recently commissioned a new script of Ane Satyre from Cupar-born actor and playwright John Bett – soon to be back on our screens in River City.  Billy Kay read a brief extract from this new script – its world premiere.

Activities moved through the market to the Duncan Institute, celebrating its 150th birthday and housing Cupar’s Library.  Through ONFife, a public consultation had been organised to name the two “grotesques” on either side of the high-level north window. The resounding choice?  “Nickety” and “Nackety” – duly announced by the Lord Lyon to the approval of the gathered crowds.

Inside the library, the Lord Lyon unveiled a plaque commemorating display materials donated by Three Estates Cupar with contents from St Andrews University and the National Library of Scotland – all helping to mark the Duncan Institute’s birthday. He gave a short speech to acknowledge the collaboration of community partners that has helped to create a new display showing copies of medieval documents provided by the National Library of Scotland and St Andrews University.

The Lord Lyon and the Deputy-Lieutenant then visited the Corn Exchange. In the lower hall, both welcomed families who were enjoying a Medieval Feast provided by The Sunshine Kitchen. The feast sold out! All were entertained by music and party tricks from wind specialist, John Sampson in medieval attire, as well as two storytellers, again in medieval outfits.

Castlehill Primary School and Kilmaron School mounted an exhibition of themed artworks, created in the previous three weeks using medieval facsimile materials provided by St Andrews University Special Collections and by the National Library of Scotland. A big thank you to Cupar Arts for their help. Clips of the work featured are shown in our video. Also on display were pictures of the schools’ pupils who had had fun in the countdown to the weekend donning medieval costumes provided by Scottish Opera.

In the upper hall, Three Estates Cupar had booked the well-known Edinburgh-based Meadows Chamber Orchestra. They gave two concerts on the day – conducted by Peter Evans. It was the orchestra’s first public performance in over two years.

The players and audience loved the experience and return to live music.

Thank you to the Orchestra for recording the performance and allowing us to share their YouTube link to view …

Both concerts included a favourite piece, Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf – particularly appropriate to the day’s celebrations of the Old Scots language as the narration was by John Bett in Broad Scots, in his translation from the Russian original.

The Sunshine Kitchen – with some of their young adults dressed in the Scottish Opera costumes – continued their 21st century service, catering for all with teas, coffees and themed cakes as well as a formal lunch for the orchestra, and refreshments during the concert interval. Gayle Nelson of the charity said: “We would like to thank everyone who attended the Medieval Feast and enjoyed their time at The Corn Exchange on Saturday. Our team had a wonderful time catering the event, and thoroughly enjoyed the special sense of community created by everyone sharing a meal together. It was a pleasure to be asked to do this and our congratulations to the event organisers for a very successful day.

Natasha Skinner, coordinator at the Fife Farmers’ Market was also full of praise for the day, saying: “The buzz that was created in the town was brilliant. The market was a success and probably one of the best trading days since I took on the role off coordinator. We, as Fife Farmer’s Market, are very happy to be part of the community in Cupar.


Parklife Celebrations

Cupar has rarely buzzed with so many enthusiastic families – locals and visitors. Fluthers car park overflowed as those enjoying the celebrations packed into Cupar. As the town centre entertainment continued, the spotlight turned to focus on the Haugh Park. The weekend coincided with the final few days of the Stirlings Family Funfair – families enjoying the rides, stalls and games.

Alongside the funfair – between the bandstand and the town – was C in the Park. The event – superbly staged and managed – entertained thousands of live music fans of all ages. More than 25 acts appeared between 11am and 11pm. The audience brought chairs, tables, picnic blankets and their best moves – and enjoyed 12 hours of sounds.

Organiser, Steven Stewart, said: “The C In The Park Committee would like to thank everyone who helped make the event a huge success. The acts, the DJs, helpers, suppliers and of course the people who came out to see the live music in the park. We were overwhelmed by the amount of people who attended.

Cupar Cameras Club also joined in the weekend’s activities: memebrs of the Club were invited to snap away – and will be creating an archive of the celebrations.

A selection of their images will be chosen by the Club to be shared online. We will then invite our audience to nominate the photo that best sums up this unique weekend. This will be shared in the coming weeks.


Giveaways & Takeaways

There was a Great Toy Giveaway at Castlehill Community Association – the charity handing out more than 350 toys for free to families from across Cupar and beyond.

And the weekend coincided with the launch of CDT’s Cupar Food & Drink Trail …

The Trail – the first in a series that will launch to showcase food & drink across north east Fife, each beginning and ending in Cupar, was also shared on promotional literature and posters that helped to advertise the weekend’s events.

Thousands of leaflets were delivered via businesses in Cupar, hundreds clicked on related QR codes promoting events and activities … and more than 1,000 people read this Blog on the Saturday alone. Thank you!


Collaborations & Celebrations

James Hair, Chair of ABCD, the town’s Business Association, welcomed the weekend’s events, saying: “There is a collective momentum in Cupar driven by an increasing number of collaborations. The Celebration Weekend is just one example – but testament to the whole being far greater than the sum of its parts.” James adds: “I know businesses benefited from the weekend and we will be planning a survey in the coming weeks to ask for feedback on this and other initiatives that are supporting Cupar & District.

We will give the last word to Bill Pagan, Chair of Cupar Development Trust, who has steered the collaboration of community groups through 2021 to deliver the weekend’s collective. Bill says: “CDT is delighted at the collaborative responses from organisations across our area and across different interests … all coming together to make a memorable weekend for all to enjoy.” Bill adds: “This past weekend saw people rejoicing in a relaxation of the strictest Covid restrictions. It became clear during the day – and from feedback we have received since – that many would like the Celebration Weekend to become an annual event. That needs careful discussion and consideration with all who have been involved. Should it become a calendar fixture, I know Cupar Development Trust will be an enthusiastic supporter.


Thank you!

A huge thank you is given to all of those involved – so many volunteering their time and resources to deliver this celebration …

And a special vote of thanks …

Cupar Development Trust acknowledges the generous support of The Bruce Trust and the Cupar Common Good Fund, without which Cupar’s Celebration Weekend 2021 would not have been possible. Finally, the organisers of Cupar’s Celebration Weekened 2021 would like to express their gratitude to the following for their help in the planning and delivery of the Children’s Day activities.


Beyond Cupar’s Celebration Weekend?

The town has a series of events planned through until the end of 2021 and is already scheduling events for ’22  …

    • Cupar Museum & Heritage Centre Open Weekend – Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th October: come and visit the town’s museum and heritage centre on their open weekend.
    • Open Studios – Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th October
    • Cupar & District Annual Lecture – 27th October: organised by the Cupar Development Trust. More will be published soon.
    • Fruit & Blossom in Autumn – from Sustainable Cupar with orchard and river walks.
    • Cupar at Christmas – 27th November 



Thanks for reading!