After the party’s over

8 October 2013

I'm writing this with the sound of fork lift trucks outside our office and the clank of tents being taken down. The hall of Wigtown's County Buildings is crammed with drying banners, stage furniture and crates of drink, all waiting to find a new home. Outside, dismantled remains of the Time Machine installation lean against a wall, while a solitary figure shovels sand from “Wigtown Beach” into a couple of giant sacks.


"Our revels now are over": there's always a mixture of relief and deflation the day after the end of the festival, as the adrenalin starts to fade and the outside world, largely ignored for the past 10 days, starts to intrude again: cabinet reshuffle, football results, unanswered emails and the quiet chug of life on an ordinary Monday in Wigtown in October. Back to reality.


There are no final figures yet but in terms of visitors 2013’s festival has been the busiest ever by some margin. Joanna Lumley’s appearance on a gloriously sunny first Saturday set the frenzied tone. She literally stopped the traffic, with passers-by standing in the road to take photos on their mobile phones.


Everyone will have their own memories. Sometimes they occurred off-stage, like the moment the BBC’s Middle East Jeremy Bowen was almost taken out by a 12-year-old girl who slipped and careered towards him at the ceilidh. Given the frenzied nature of some of the dancing, he’d have been advised to bring his flak jacket. Jeremy was last seen on a train at Carlisle, eating a pie and chips, recovering from the exertions of the night before.


On the subject of food, I will also never forget the moment that the table fell apart during a dinner with the author James Robertson, creating a tableau of broken glass, split wood and spilt wine. The grace and good humour with which the diners simply dusted themselves down and (after a new table was brought) carried on undaunted says a lot about our audience. So does the liveliness of the questions during this year’s events, a fact that so many visiting authors have remarked upon.


I would like personally to thank our wonderful team of volunteers, who have kept the show moving even at the busiest times. With so many supporters and partners, it’s hard to acknowledge everyone here.  But we owe a special debt to our principal sponsor ScottishPower, to our national media partner The Telegraph, and to the Hollywood Trust, the Barcapel Foundation and the Foyle Foundation. Their collective support has allowed us to continue to push the programme into new areas and strengthen what we’ve offered before.


It’s gone silent outside since I started writing this blog post. The McNeillie Tent is packed up on the back of a truck and the last author has been dispatched to Lockerbie, Barrhill or Dumfries. Did any of it ever really happen?


Adrian Turpin, Festival Director