Cupar’s Big Celebration 2023

Cupar’s BIG Weekend has been hailed as a “great success” by organisers – with plans already under way to build on the 2023 event. To that end, they have launched a survey to ask for feedback on this year’s events and activities …

The weekend – billed as a community celebration of the town’s youngsters, live music, local food and unique heritage – built on the events staged on the same weekend in 2021 and 2022.

This year, significantly more events and activities were delivered than in the previous two years – all delivered by volunteers from more than forty of the town’s associations, clubs, groups, organisations and societies.

Below is a review of much that took place across the three days: to access and feedback on the survey, please click on the image below.


Celebrating Young People …

On the Friday, it was great to see more than 120 local school children from Castlehill and St Columba’s Primary Schools take part in a wonderful Local Food Showcase.

The event – run by the Royal Highland Education Trust Fife Countryside Initiative – saw local food producers and suppliers holding a programme of rolling workshops where children engaged to find out more on provenance.

Alongside RHET, Willie Balfour from SRUC Elmwood ran his demonstration kitchen – cooking up a stir-fry using local produce. A BIG thank you to Paterson’s Fruit Fayre on Bonnygate who kindly donated the ingredients for the demo.

All the children got to take away goodies from the day as well as Recipe Cards enabling them to try the stir-fry at home. We would like to thank Tesco is Cupar, Kettle Produce, Branston Potatoes and Growers Garden for their support and interaction with the children. It was a BIG hit and we know RHET Fife Countryside Initiative will be looking to run another event in 2024 … hopefully with more children involved from across more of the area’s schools.

All of the community events held across the weekend were free and we know many families enjoyed their time out – exploring the town, visiting events and activities that had been laid on – as well as having a great time on the final weekend of the Fun Fair in the Haugh Park. The guide we produced for the weekend – 4,000 of which were delivered in the countdown – proved mighty popular with youngsters as each contained £5.50 worth of vouchers to be redeemed against rides at the fair … so a £22,000 give away to be enjoyed by the young and young at heart! A very BIG thank you to Gavin Waddell who not only distributed promotional materials around Cupar but also out into the town’s catchment. And thank you to the Stirling Family Fun Fair: it always proves a great attraction!

The Cupar Youth Cafe led the open days for young people enabling visitors to meet the Youth Cafe team and discover more on their work, projects and activities. There were ‘open days galore’ as part of the weekend, including the Youth Cafe’s parent body at the Cupar YMCA/YWCA on Bonnygate.

All of the town’s churches threw open their doors to welcome all – and to showcase the places, the people, the architecture and more: St John’s on Bonnygate as well as the Cupar Baptist Church, also on Bonnygate, Cupar Old Parish Church on Kirkgate as well as St Columba’s Church – also on Kirkgate – and St James on St Catherine Street. St James also supported the Live Music theme by staging a Music Marathon on the Saturday.

Similarly, all of the community groups who share the Castlehill Community Centre opened their doors. The Centre is home to a wide range of community groups; they all welcomed visitors  to explain their work: Cupar Model Railway Club, Cupar Camera Club (holding an exhibition and studio-based portrait session for members of the public), Cupar Craftmates, Cupar Art Club, Cupar Amateur Musical Society – and the Centre’s neighbours, North East Fife Credit Union and Ferryfield Nursery/Playgroup.

Cameron Durie’s opened his workshop (off Bonnygate) allowing visitors to come along and see how the horse sculpture is progressing. Folk got to meet and chat with sculptor, Cameron, and project coordinator, Margaret Robertson. You can read more via our Blog link here.

Also on Bonnygate, the open day at Lodge No. 19 proved popular. The lodge rooms were setup as if they were holding a meeting. They also displayed some of their historical Masonic artifacts as well as elaborate regalia and office bearer jewels. Members were on hand to provide guided tours of the building as well as an historical overview of what the building has been used for over the centuries. And as with all the open venues, visitors were welcomed with free teas, coffees and home baking.

Just out of town, there was an open garden at Over Rankeilour Walled Garden. The community therapeutic garden provides a safe and supportive green space environment for volunteers and those referred to them from NHS organisations and other third sector groups. They grow fruit, veg and flowers and – in doing so – are trying to restore the 2.5 acre walled garden that would once have been the kitchen garden for Over Rankeilour House.

The BIG events – the BIG Wee Cycle, the BIG Ceilidh, the BIG Praise and the BIG Concert – all attracted families and youngsters to them.

Cupar’s Big Wee Cycle saw a mass cycle set off from the Bonnygate Car Park on the Sunday morning. Organised by Sustainable Cupar – with support from Greener Kirkcaldy and Taycoasters – the event gave Cupar folk a chance to cycle round the centre of the town on roads which are often unsafe and busy with heavy vehicles.

The community police ensured that road junctions were safely negotiated and the ride finished with a circuit of the Haugh Park, where Dr Bike from Greener Kirkcaldy was on hand to do running repairs and give advice about bike problems. Over 40 had booked to join the event; although a rainy start curtailed the numbers a little, a small balance bike contingent enjoyed moving on the central paths of the park, supervised by their parents.

We were very grateful for great community support from CuparNow, Fife Council Grounds Maintenance, Marcella at the Fairground, Cupar Big Weekend, Greener Kirkcaldy and the Community Police team that enabled us to make this event happen successfully” said joint organiser Mary Ellen Robertson. “Despite the weather, a good outing was enjoyed by all!

It was also fabulous to see youngsters at the bandstand on the Saturday – all as part of the BIG Ceilidh event – including students from the Yvonne Gray Dance Studios who performed to live music from East Neuk Musicians, and members of Cupar Youth Music Theatre (CYMT) who also performed to help promote their upcoming show, We Will Rock You.



Celebrating Local Food …

A small repeat of Friday’s cookery demonstrations – hosted by Willie Balfour from SRUC – were staged on the Saturday morning in the Corn Exchange.

Once again, almost all of the ingredients were donated by Paterson’s Fruit Fayre on Bonnygate. All those attending were able to take away Recipe Cards so they could try the dishes at home. They includes …

    • Apple & Blackberry Millefeuille Tart
    • Kofta Kebab with Flat Bread & CousCous
    • Cupar’s Carrot Biryani

The recipe cards also displayed QR codes for visitors to use when taking a walk, roll or stroll around the town.

The QR codes gave access to the Cupar Food & Drink Trail – as well as links to 400+ categorised businesses across Cupar, some 40 of which sell food and drink of one kind or another. You can discover more via this linkand access the Cupar Trail by clicking on the image below.

Where better to celebrate local food and drink than in the reinvigorated Cupar Market? Some 26 stalls lined Crossgate on the Saturday morning selling all kinds of local produce – from raw ingredients of meat, fish, fruit and vegetables to ready-to-eat produce including bakery, cheese, sauces and more.

Many of the producers are within just a short drive of the town and those close to Cupar and across north east Fife all feature on our Food & Drink Trails. The Market returns every third weekend in the month: for more information, visit the Market’s Facebook page via this link.


Celebrating our Unique Heritage …

Cupar has a unique heritage and the BIG Weekend once again helped to showcase some of the town’s fascinating history.

Alongside the market on Saturday, shoppers and visitors heard announcements and pronouncements, some live readings, musical interludes and information on the weekend being shared with those attending – delivered by Three Estates Cupar and their respective partners including Cupar Development Trust. It included the appearance from the sixteenth century of Sir David Lyndsay who, as a Cuparian, is famed for writing Ane Satire of the Thrie Estatatis – the only surviving dramatic text from pre-Reformation Scotland. Dating from the 1550s, it was written in Older Scots, the language spoken in lowland Scotland between the mid 15th and the end of the 17th centuries. You can hear more via our Podcast on this link.

The following proclamation was shared by the Lord Lieutenant of Fife, as a representative of King Charles III, and was read to those at the market …

At the same time, a History Fair was held in the upper hall at the Corn Exchange. It was a wide range of groups and organisations – all related to family history, ancestry and genealogy – including Fife Folk Museum, Crail Heritage, Cupar Heritage, RAWs (Remembering the Accused Witches), Fife Archive & Libraries as well as Newburgh Ancestry and History Society. Those visiting the History Fair were also encouraged to view the Steve Penrice Collection at the Corn Exchange. Steve has an extensive archive of paperwork, artifacts and photographs – featuring local shops, town and village scenes. Much more can be found online and you can discover it via this link

Cupar’s Museum & Heritage Centre helped to organise a unique event in the Haugh Park. The “Shire of Caer Caledon” is St Andrews University’s medieval reenactment group. They represent a number of the medieval guilds and showcased the lives of people in the late medieval period. You can find more on their group via this link. It was great to see some of their group joining in the Ceilidh!

Throughout the weekend, visitors to the town were invited to explore Cupar. Copies of our free Town Guide & Map were available across the town. The Guide includes Cupar’s Blue Plaque Trail together with QR codes to help to discover more on the town’s shopping, places to eat and drink, services and more.


Celebrating Live Music …

We have mentioned the Music Marathon in St James Church on St Catherine Street. This ran throughout Saturday and those visiting not only enjoyed solo singers, choirs and musicians – but also free cake and cuppas!

The BIG Ceilidh in the park on Saturday ‘sold out’. That phase caused a little confusion as the event – as with all the events – was free. Organisers had to ensure they were managing numbers: the tickets allocated online as well as through the Community Voice on Crossgate totaled 400 for the event. Through the three hours, the Ceilidh and supporting live music events welcomed the young and young at heart with many families to enjoy the dancing in the park. Delivered by The Jacqueline Raeburn Band, the afternoon also included performances from Yvonne Gray Dance Studios with live music from East Neuk Musicians and Cupar Youth Music Theatre (CYMT).

There was a stall from Awards for All (the National Lottery) to whom we are most grateful for their support. Local charity, The Sunshine Kitchen, sold cakes and other sweet treats, along with hot and cold beverages at the bandstand. They also distributed free Children’s Picnic Bags.

On the Sunday, the live music continued with the BIG Praise in Haugh Parl – enjoyed by hundreds through the two hour event. The coming together of Cupar’s Churches celebrated the town, community and all those who make Cupar their home. It saw live music from Celtic Worship as well as a wonderful performance from Fijian singers who were visiting from Leuchars.

Hymn sheets were provided, words for the songs were also projected for those seated to use – and a QR code was made available enabling all to download and sing along.

Finally, on Sunday evening, the BIG Concert was held at St John’s Church. A line up of local musical talent – musicians and singers – assembled to deliver an eclectic and entertaining musical finale to Cupar’s 2023 Big Weekend: St Columba’s School Choir, Bagpipe Solo – by Gabriel, Songs – by Agatha, Violin Solo, Rebecka & Ava, Bagpipe Solo – Magnus, Songs – by Rebecka, Bagpipe Duet – Magnus & Gabriel and The Klez Un Mair Collective.


More photos …

The Cupar Camera Club acted as official photographers for the BIG Weekend; their members were badged as such and visited many of the weekend’s events and activities. They are compiling a selection of images from the three days and will share with us. We have offered to then use those to create a short YouTube clip that we will share on our pages in the near future. Watch this space! And many thanks to the Club for their support.


Thank you …

The forum of community groups involved in delivering the BIG Weekend would like to acknowledge and thank The National Lottery Community Fund who made an award to help fund the events and activities that took place on the BIG Weekend. Through the auspices of Cupar Development Trust, an application for support was made. The National Lottery Community Fund, Scotland Chair, Kate Still: said: “National Lottery funding can make amazing things happen in local communities across the country. This project is a great example of community activity in action, showing just what can be achieved when people come together for a common cause or to help others. National Lottery players can be proud to know that the money they raise is helping to support this vital work which is making a real difference to so many.” So thank you to the Trust. Thank you to Raymond Young who wrote the application using materials and information provided by members of the Cupar Forum – and thank you to the National Lottery Community Fund for their award.

2024 …

If you’d like to be involved in plans for a 2024 BIG Weekend, please drop an email via this link to Raymond Young. Raymond has lead the fantastic forum of community groups that collaborated to deliver more than 30 events and activities for the BIG Weekend. A very BIG thank you to them all!

And finally …

In 2022, we shot and broadcast a TV campaign inviting folk to spend a day in Cupar & Country. It was seen by more than 330,000 people during its run. The TV ad was broadcast through this summer and in the countdown to the BIG Weekend. You can watch the ad by clicking on the image below …

Thanks for reading.