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Taste Of Tartan

Margaret MacDonald - Chairperson

Pauline Bain - Secretary

Annie Mackay - Treasurer

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"A Taste of Tartan" was formed in the early 1980s, to provide entertainment during the summer months for both visitors and local people alike. Weekly ceilidhs were held in the Pentland Hotel, Thurso, with the Addie Harper Scottish Dance Band as the resident band. Traditional entertainment was provided from the wealth of local talent, with artistes performing on a continuously changing programme.

The Organisation then lapsed for several years, but was re-born in 2004 to host a visit in August by a group of dancers from Markelo in the Netherlands. (See details later.) The weekly ceilidhs were re-introduced, with venues at the Royal British Legion and at the Royal Hotel, Thurso. Music was again provided by the Addie Harper Scottish Dance Band, and regular demonstrations were given by members of the Mina Mackay School of Highland Dancing. Local artistes provided a variety of entertainment.

In July 2007 Taste of Tartan hosted another group of dancers from West Friesland in the Netherlands. (See details later.)

The Taste of Tartan weekly ceilidhs are continuing each summer, with dates and details shown on the What's On pages. Provisional plans are being drawn up for a visit to Markelo in the Netherlands in 2009.

Contact the Chairperson or Secretary for further information.

Earlier Events
July 2007 - Visit by De Schermer Dansers
Another group of folklore dancers visited from the Netherlands in July 2007. They were known as the Schermer Dansers, from a farming area in West Friesland, some 40 km north of Amsterdam. They had heard of the very successful visit by the Markelo group three years earlier, and had asked if they could come over. Naturally they were made most welcome.

The 29 dancers, singers and musicians were again dressed in the traditional costumes of the region, but this time the costumes were for more formal wear such as Sundays or special occasions, typical of the fashions in 1850 to 1875. The men wore knee breeches with long white socks and buckled shoes, and top hats and tails. The ladies wore fine lace caps decorated with jewellery in different patterns. They had colourful long skirts and tops, with decorated purses hanging from the waists. All the jewellery was antique, having been passed down in the family from generation to generation.

Again the group performed indoors and outdoors in Thurso and Wick, and also at the Halkirk Highland Games. They also provided entertainment at various residential care homes in Thurso and Wick. They were given an extremely warm welcome and enthusiastic support wherever they appeared. The group had one day of relaxation, when they were taken on a coach tour to see as much of Caithness as possible in the limited time available.

Local hosts provided accommodation during the five nights visit, and many new friendships were formed and are likely to be long-lasting.

The Schermer Dansers have their own website at: www.schermerdansers.nl
Photos from Wick 27 July 2007

See The Schermer Dansers in action in Wick - A Short Film
Schermer Dansers at Halkirk Highland Games 2007

August 2004 - Visit by Markelo Folklore Society
A 49-strong group of dancers from the Markelo Folklore Society paid a very successful visit to Caithness in August 2004. Markelo is a small town some 125 km east of Amsterdam, close to the German border. The dancers, singers and musicians are all amateurs, and many come from farming backgrounds. They were dressed in the authentic colourful costumes from around 1840, with the ladies wearing long skirts and fine lace caps, and the men in blue dungarees and tunics and peaked caps. Everyone wore the traditional wooden working clogs.

The group performed both indoors and outdoors at various venues in Thurso and Wick, and also ran workshops to demonstrate and teach some of their dances. They were extremely well supported wherever they appeared. On their one day of relaxation the group were taken on a coach tour of Caithness to see various places of interest.

Members of the Taste of Tartan committee and their friends acted as hosts and provided accommodation for the group during the five nights of their stay. New friendships were formed and many of the hosts have kept in contact with their individual guests.

The Markelo Folklore Society have invited Taste of Tartan to organise a visit to Markelo in 2009. It is hoped that local artistes from Caithness will be able to make the journey and provide traditional Scottish entertainment to the people of the Markelo area.

The Society has its own website at: www.folkloristische-vereniging-markelo.nl