I moved from Glasgow to Blackness in February 1979. My three children attended Blackness Primary School and it didn’t take long for me to hear all about the Bo’ness Fair Day.
My children came home from school one day and told me that a new Queen had been picked for the Fair. This new Queen had indeed been picked and her name was Kirsty Lockwood from Deanburn Primary School. Bo’ness was buzzing with excitement and word travelled quickly about who had been chosen to be part of the Fair.
Several weeks after this the presentees from Blackness Primary School were chosen. I was delighted when my eldest daughter Dorothy came home and told me she was a presentee. The theme that year from Blackness was Eastern Promise and the music was from Kismet. Dorothy’s partner was Derek Melville. The fun has started, costumes have to be planned and rehearsal’s began.
The schools all had floats then and Blackness float had to be decorated at Walton Farm. I was about to do something I had never done before. I went to the woods and collected fern and started making paper flowers, between fern, flowers and paint I was kept extremely busy.
The night before the Fair arrived which I found out was called Fair E’en and I was looking forward to seeing the arches in the town as I knew how busy the people of Bo’ness had been in the weeks and months leading up to the Fair.
There was a real sense of fun and a strong community spirit when we arrived in Bo’ness that night. I was with my good friend Jean and out families. The atmosphere was both exciting and welcoming. I loved seeing everyone out and about, young and old chatting and catching up with friends old and new. There were wee girls with rollers in their hair and enjoying being asked what they were at the Fair.
I simply couldn’t believe what people had built in front of their houses; nothing would have prepared me for what I saw that night. It was just mind blowing. I had never seen anything like it before.
We had a tremendous evening and just when I thought things couldn’t get any better we were approached by a kind gentleman who asked if we would like to come and see his granddaughter’s fairy dress. Not only were we offered true Bo’ness hospitality but also we had the pleasure of seeing a beautiful fairy dress, the first one I’d seen. This has always been such a lovely memory for me. The little girl was called Mari-Ellena Corvi and I was to discover that her dad was the owner of the fish and chip shop in the town. I enjoyed sharing this story with Maria and Bert when I got to know them later on.
Wakening up on the Big Day I did the same as I’m sure all Bo’ness people do and that was to look out of the window to see what the weather was like but after I arrived at Blackness Primary School and saw our float and all the children in their wonderful outfits I knew it was going to be a great day with or without the weather.
Betty MacKay was our Headmistress and it was a wonderful feeling being on the float with her and all the children to travel to the Grange Primary School. It was a proud moment arriving at the school with our decorated float. From there we marched excitedly along to the park.
One of my fondest memories from then and still my favourite part of the Fair is when we enter the park. The crowds start to clap and cheer and I am completely overwhelmed by the welcome our wee school got then and continues to get year after year. It was just and still is amazing. You never tire of watching everyone take their places on the stage and perform their duties to perfection.
The Grand procession was more than I could have imagined. Over the years I have learned that everyone has their own place where they stand every year to watch the procession passing. It was lovely waving and shouting to people as we passed by. Once again the welcome we were given from this huge crowd was fabulous. As we passed through the town Julia Raeburn supplied a healthy bag of treats to make sure we made it up Harbour Road.
My own daughter Gillian was also a Flower Girl and we enjoyed every minute of her day, however when I went to collect her after the procession she had no flower left in her basket! When I asked her what happened she said had thrown them out to people in the crowd.
As with the people of Bo’ness we see generation generation becoming involved in the Bo’ness Fair. My grandchildren have also had the pleasure of taking part in the Fair and I have been a very proud granny watching them on their special day. This year it is the turn of my Granddaughter Zoe as she is a fairy with Deanburn Primary School. I can’t wait to give her that special wave as she enters the park.
One of my favourite floats was when the school did Grease. Our float was decorated as a soda shop with our girls in their Pink Lady costumes and the boys with their T Birds leather jackets and shades. With the music coming out of our Ghetto Blasters we left Blackness School certainly in the mood. But unfortunately the weather was not on out side. as it started to rain just before the procession began. It didn’t make any difference to the kids, though, they just kept singing and dancing in the downpour as our float went round and when we had to stop they even had the crowd joining in on the fun. The kids just had a ball.
Recently at Blackness we had two girls called Frankie and Rosie who were from South Africa. The two girls were chosen to be Faries together and I will never forget the excitement on their faces as the came into the school on the Fair morninglooking forward to taking part on this special day. They have now returned to South Africa and I am so glad they experienced the magc of a Bo’ness Fair before they left.
In 1982 I was invited to my friend Jean Nicolson’s house to see her daughter’s Lady in Waiting dress and through this invitation I have met some wonderful people who helped raise funds for the Fair. I have had such fun with this group of friends as we enjoy each other’s company and got to raise money for the Fair at the same time.
For me the Fair is for children, it’s all about fun, friendship and community spirit.
I wish Queen Nicole and her Retinue a wonderful Fair Day full of memories that will last a life time, and my sincere thanks goes to the Fair Committee for their hard work year after year who help to make Bo’ness Fair Day the Best Day of the Year.