THE countdown to Piping Hot Forres has begun in earnest, with 119 bands signed up to play in the town’s Grant Park on Saturday, June 28.
The majority of the bands are from Scotland but some will also be coming from as far afield as Australia, the United States, Switzerland and Ireland.
Local bands will include Dufftown and District, Forres and District, 2622 Highland Squadron RAF, RAF Lossiemouth and Elgin and District, who last year were crowned Grade 4b European Champions.
Defending their title as current Grade 1 European champions will be the Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band.
The event again has Benromach Speyside Single Malt Whisky as its title sponsor.
This year there will be an emphasis on learning the pipes and drums, with an education tent where people of any age can give it a go, and a performance by school pupils from the Forres Pipe Band over lunch in the chieftain’s tent. Both Elgin and Forres Pipe Band have seen an increase in numbers of those interested in learning the pipes following the competition in Forres last year.
The World’s Tattie Scone Competition will also be held at the event, with the aim to make a tattie scone using a set recipe and ingredients including delicious Albert Bartlett potatoes plus your own ‘magic’ ingredient, with the tastiest and most imaginative scone winning a trophy donated by the host, the Oakwood Cookery School, Elgin, and the accolade of Scotland’s Tastiest Tattie Scone Maker 2014. Albert Bartlett, the UK’s leading provider of potatoes, is sponsoring the event and supplying the key ingredient.
In addition to the piping there will be a Johnstons of Elgin sponsored craft tent, trade stalls and Walkers Shortbread sponsored food and drink marquee featuring some of the finest produce in Moray and the surrounding area, and new for 2014 will be Brodie Countryfare’s Piping Hot Café, a seated area serving teas and coffees.
The local community has again thrown itself into supporting the event, with a Piping Hot Forres steak pie from Ashers bakery, Piping Hot chilli ice-cream from Miele’s, a Piping Hot tartan from Keith Textiles, and new for 2014 a Piping Hot lambswool scarf from Johnstons of Elgin and Piping Hot Forres chilli oatcakes from Maclean’s Highland Bakery.
The organisers, Forres Events Ltd, are hoping the event, in only its second year, will attract crowds of up to 20,000 – more than 3,000 up on last year – making this the biggest single day event in Moray.
The competition is the responsibility of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association in Glasgow. However, the practical arrangements for the event are the responsibility of Forres Events Ltd, a small group of Forres business men and women who have volunteered their time to put Forres on the piping map and run a world class event that will benefit the local economy.
Ian Widdowson, chairman of Forres Events Ltd, who run the event as not-for-profit, said: “It is great to see so many bands coming back to Forres and some new ones too, and particularly wonderful to see bands coming from overseas – this is what we really wanted to do with bringing these games to Forres to showcase what a thriving place Forres, and Moray is.
“With many of the bands staying in all areas from Inverness to Aberdeen, this event is significant not just to Moray but across neighbouring areas.”
Councillor John Cowe, chairman of the Moray Economic Partnership, said: “Last year’s inaugural Piping Hot Forres was an unqualified success and, as a spectacle, was one of the highlights of the summer both for the people of Forres and Moray and for those visiting the area at the time.
“From an economic viewpoint, it is precisely the sort of major event that we want to attract to the area, and all credit to the organisers for showing that Moray is more than capable of staging such a prestigious championship.
“This year’s event will again bring a welcome boost to accommodation providers and other businesses in the area, and I am sure it will prove every bit as successful as last year.”
Cameron Taylor, recently appointed tourism operations manager working with Moray Chamber of Commerce to implement the Moray Economic Partnership’s Tourism Strategy across Moray Speyside, said: “High profile, successful events such as Piping Hot Forres are an important part of the mix of events, festivals and attractions bringing visitors to Moray, and we are delighted to welcome competitors and spectators to this year’s championships. Tourism is a vitally important part of Moray’s economy, sustaining businesses and communities.”
Ticket prices remain at 2013 levels, with the addition of concession tickets available for 2014 for the over-60s. There are also discounted prices for tickets bought in advance:
Adult (18-59) £10 (£12 on day); youth (12-17) £7 (£8 on day); senior citizens (60+) £9 (£10 on day); children under 12 are free if accompanied by an adult, although they must have a wristband. Family ticket (two adults, two children) £28 (£30 on day).
This year, to promote Moray’s food and drink, Forres Events Ltd has received grant funding from the Community Food Fund, which is financed by the Scottish Government and has been created to promote local food and drink, in line with Scotland’s National Food and Drink Policy.
To help put Moray on the tourist trail, funding has also been secured from EventScotland to increase marketing for the event, in a bid to attract even more people.
And Piping Hot Forres will also form part of Scotland’s Year of Homecoming 2014 – a year-long programme of events alongside the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games.
For more information go to www.pipinghotforres.com