Autumn Fling draws crowds to Portree

More than 1,100 people enjoyed the return of live music on Skye on Saturday at the Autumn Fling event held on the King George V playing fields in Portree.

The festival goers were treated to a variety of stalls and entertainment such as a bouncy castle and games for children and musical talents ranging from established trad bands, a retro pop tribute act and up and coming local DJs

Speaking to the Free Press following the event, Lorna Cormack from the Portree and Braes Community Trust’s Light Up Portree collective was pleased by the turnout for what has been the group’s largest event so far.

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She said: “We reckon we had between 1,100 and 1,200 people attending the festival throughout the course of the day – we had sold close to 800 tickets online before the event – so we are super chuffed with that.

“It was just such a nice relaxing day. It was lovely to see all the families, and all the children running around and having a great time – there were lots of happy faces and people meeting up for the first time in a long time. I think it was exciting for everyone.

She added: “It was hard work; we are not going to deny that – it was the first time that we have done something on this scale so in that way it was very ambitious.”

Free Press photographer Willie Urquhart captured a flavour of the atmosphere at the fling, with the performers, music fans, and children all enjoying the festivities across the course of the event.

The musical roster included Pitch Black Sound System, who got the party up and running and provided the sound equipment for the fling and the playfully titled golden oldie cover band Status Ceò. Multi-generation-spanning tour de force Feeva were also on the bill alongside crowd-pulling favourites the Hector Henderson Quattro and Sheepshank Redemption. The dynamic Valtos – who hail from Broadford and Portree – made their live island debut with a DJ set.

Across the course of the event, local community groups had the opportunity to take up a berth at the festival for some much-needed fundraising following what has been an extremely challenging period for many organisations.

“There were eight community groups involved in the event, over and above the Trust and the light up Portree group, and by all accounts they did very well, ” Lorna told the Free Press.

“We are very happy that these groups got an uplift as they haven’t been able to fundraise at all for so long.”

She added: “With respect to Covid, the whole reason for doing this in an outdoor setting was to keep everyone safe, there was a risk with the weather, but we stuck to our guns.

“There was a moment early in the week where we thought ‘is this going to happen’ but as luck would have it apart from the rain shower around tea time it turned out very well.”

Looking ahead to the future community gatherings, Lorna said: “For the Christmas event we are aiming for 27th November, and we are hoping to get the reindeer again depending on what the arrangements are regarding Covid. 

“We are definitely on track for that – and we also have plans for a New Year’s event as well.”

Article by Adam Gordon, images by Willie Urquhart.