September 9th sees The Stove’s fifth staging of Nithraid, a fun family event that takes place on and around the river. The daring sailing race, starting from the Solway Firth and sailing right up to the River Nith in the centre of Dumfries, is made possible by one of the highest tides of the year. While waiting for the boats to arrive, The Stove invites you to enjoy the ‘arts and food village’ at Mill Green, opposite the Whitesands, from 12 noon until 5pm, as well as evening activities starting from 7pm.
Sal Cuddihy, Project Manager for Nithraid, says, “It’s an exciting year for Nithraid with some great new additions to the festival; our friends the Vikings are coming to liven up the banks of the Mill Green with re-enactments and combat displays. For the first time, we will be continuing the festivities into the evening with some live entertainment in a relaxed atmosphere. It’s an exciting project to be a part of, and we hope plenty of people come along to get involved and cheer on the sailors.”
Nithraid is a celebration of the town’s long relationship with its river, highlighting the way the Nith connected Dumfries to the rest of the world through trade, goods (including Coos) and sailpower. It is created and produced by The Stove Network and is part of the groups mission to make creative opportunities for local people to be involved in the future of Dumfries.
Visitors to Nithraid are invited to join in with a full day of activities. Kicking off the day, the Salty Coo procession will leave from Fountain Square on Dumfries High Street, arriving at the Mill Green at approximately 12.30pm. This year, Nithraid has a Viking theme, with Longfada Viking Group staging a re-enactment which interprets the lives of people living by the river around 1000 years ago. They will be putting on a Viking Combat display at 1pm, at the Mill Green. Wordsmithcrafts, another Viking themed group, will be working with other local groups from the area, and encouraging ‘have a go’ activities for all the family.
Throughout the day, there will also be art activities and demonstrations for all ages, acoustic music on a hand built stage by emerging artists Blueprint100, food provided by Craig Paterson of Catering Plus, and the dunking of the legendary Salty Coo at 4.45pm, where the winning skipper has the honour of lowering the Coo and releasing her into the river. Then at 7pm, members of the public are invited back to the Mill Green for ‘Nithraid Night Time’ – live music and spoken word performances, visuals, storytelling, food and campfires!
Every year, The Stove offers the opportunity for young artists to join the team to reinvent the Salty Coo Procession, and put their own stamp on part of the town’s cultural calendar. This year, the procession is led by Leo Marsh, Jimmy Russell and Agne Zdanaviciute; a group of young artists living in Dumfries. They will be using street theatre and clowning techniques to create a procession which uses spontaneity and audience interaction to bring laughter and intrigue to the streets of Dumfries. Leo commented, “None of us have formal arts training yet, but putting this procession together has been very exciting for all of us. It’s been quite eye-opening about how much work and coordination goes into putting together a performance like this, and we’re very thankful for all the interest and support we have received so far.”
This year, Nithraid is kindly sponsored by the People’s Project. The People’s Project is a non-profit organisation which was set up in 2008 by Mark Jardine to rekindle the meaning of community in Dumfries and Galloway. The project aims to encourage acts of kindness across the region of Dumfries and Galloway through numerous projects and events. Nithraid has also been generously supported by Holywood Trust, Barfil Trust and many local businesses.
For more information, including how to take part, please visit www.thestove.org/nithraid