The flags are flying and horses groomed in Penicuik as the town prepares to celebrate its 81st Hunter & Lass festival.
It is Midlothian’s only Common Riding festival and understandably it is considered a great honour to be nominated as Hunter and Hunter’s Lass. This year, the honour will be Grant McLagan and Sharon Sloan’s, the first couple to take to the reins since 1984.
Hunter Elect, Grant said:
Sharon & I hope that everyone young and old will come along to this year’s festivities to cheer us on and allow visitors to see the people of Penicuik at their best. We are looking forward with pride in honouring Penicuik throughout the Borders towns. This is a year that Sharon and I will treasure in our hearts forever and we would love you all to be a part of that.
However, for the first time the Hunter and Lass will be accompanied by a junior counterpart, as the festival seeks to reassert its family first principles. The move comes on the back of a suggestion from a member of the public to introduce the younger pairing in the face of growing criticism that the festival wasn’t catering to all ages. It was decided that the role would be filled by two primary six pupils, this year from the town’s Cuiken Primary School. Like in the long established nomination procedure for the primary Hunter and Lass, pupils were asked to put their name forward to be chosen. Following a huge response and subsequent draw from the hat, Finlay McLean and Sophie Lee were selected to be Penicuik’s first junior Hunter and Lass and will accompany their elders on many of their festival week duties.
The festival itself commences formally on Saturday 20 May with the annual family bike ride, led by the noted foursome and last year’s pairing William Brown and Kerry Wilson. This is followed on Sunday by the Classic Car Show and Tennis tournament, Ladies football on Monday, Midweek Rideout Tuesday,the highly anticipated Pram Race on Wednesday, Installation Ceremony Thursday evening and Hunter’s Ball on Friday. This all culminates with Hunter and Lass day on Saturday 27 May when Grant McLagan blows the horn from Penicuik Town Hall, starting the Ride Out through the Pentland Hills before the procession returns to the town to lead the colourful parade along crowd lined streets.
Saturday 20 May – Family Bike Ride – 11:30am (Start at 12 noon)
Meet at Beeslack Community High School’s Car Park. Route ends at Penicuik House where refreshments will be provided. Not suitable for children under 7, those under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Helmets must be worn.
Sunday 21 May – Classic Car Show – 11:30am
All are welcome to view an array of classic and unique cars on the forecourt at the Subaru Service Centre on Eastfield Road. Event is free.
+ Penicuik Tennis Club Tournament at 2pm, Kirkhill Courts
Monday 22 May – Young Ladies Football – 7pm
Come watch the Hunter & Lass team battle for the Royal Hotel Shield at the Penicuik Athletic Football Ground in the public park. Free.
Tuesday 23 May – Midweek Ride Out – 6pm
Watch as the Hunter & Lass lead hundreds of horses from the Storezone Yard in Eastfield Industrial State through the countryside to Howgate and back through Penicuik Town Centre at 8pm.
Wednesday 24 May – Pram Race – 7:30pm
The much anticipated Pram Race returns for another year with a lower age limit. Line Edinburgh Road, John Street and High Street and watch as locals push their outrageously decorated prams through the streets to try and claim first place.
+ Fun fair opens in Penicuik Public Park
Thursday 25 May – Hunter & Lass Installation – 6:45pm
An evening of entertainment provides the backdrop for the installation of 2017’s Hunter & Lass and junior Hunter & Lass. The event takes place outside the Town Hall on High Street and will feature dancers, speeches and pipe bands. Not to be missed.
Saturday 27 May – Ride Out – 8:50am
The festival for 2017 comes to an end in style as the Hunter gives two blasts of the horn from the balcony of Penicuik Town Hall. The procession then moves off to Penicuik House for a reception hosted by the Clerk Family (9:30am), where the traditional punch will be consumed. The Ride Out then moves off into the Pentlands, holding races at House O’Muir off the A702 around 12:30pm. The Hunter and Lass then lead the cavalcade back into the town via Mauricewood Road, to lead the parade.
Saturday 27 May – Penicuik on Parade – 1:30pm
Community groups and organisations from across the district come together in a parade through Penicuik. The parade leaves Eastfield Link Road at 1:30pm, passing the Tesco filling station and joining the A701, then proceeding along Edinburgh Road, John Street, High Street, West Street and Bog Road. We’ll be broadcasting this live to Facebook.
Saturday 27 May – Penicuik in the Park – After the parade
The Penicuik Rotary club host a series of stalls, hot food vans and a fun fair in the Penicuik Public Park. Entertainment will also be provided by Radio Lollipop.
Join our coverage of the events on Facebook and Twitter. Do remember to share your photos with us.