High-octane motorsport and the literary arts do not necessarily go hand in hand but next month Wigtown will play host to the GWF Merrick Stages Rally and the renowned Wigtown Book Festival.
Both are supported by Dumfries & Galloway Council under its Major Festivals and Events Strategy, 2014-2017.
Despite tough financial conditions, the local authority has prioritised investment in major events to generate economic benefits and to bring cultural and sporting drama to the region.
On Saturday, September 6th, drivers and co-drivers from across the country will battle for honours on the sixth round of the 2014 ARR Craib MSA Scottish Rally Championship.
The Merrick Stages will again be based at the former county buildings, which provide the perfect backdrop for the Friday night scrutineering, and the start/finish the following day.
The rally route will comprise seven classic stages in the Galloway Forest Park, including those at Drumjohn, Auchinleck, Balloch and Arroch Hill.
From September 26th, Scotland's National Book Town will host a world-class line-up of writers and broadcasters, including Clare Balding, Kate Adie, Margaret Drabble, Jonathan Miller and Kirsty Wark.
The award-winning festival, which runs until October 5th, has become one of the UK's best-loved literary events, with music, theatre, food and visual arts all added to the mix.
The book festival and the rally have been warmly welcomed by the local community, and have become mainstays of the area’s diverse economy, attracting thousands of visitors.
At a launch ceremony in the town today (Tuesday, August 26th), Councillor Colin Smyth, chair of the Economy, Environment and Infrastructure committee, and the region's Events Champion, said:
“We are committed to a sustained and ongoing programme of support to help grow major cultural and sporting events in Dumfries and Galloway. We value hugely the work of events organisers and events organisations to create fantastic cultural festivals and sporting drama. Wigtown is a gem of a town, regenerated through its Book Town status, and provides the perfect backdrop for both the Rally and the Literary Festival.”
Said Merrick Stages Clerk of the Course, Graham Bisset: "We are delighted to have secured additional backing from Dumfries and Galloway Council, which recognises the rally’s significance and contribution as a major event within the region. We look forward to increasing collaboration to develop the event and motorsport within the region in conjunction with the Council and the people of Galloway".
He went on: "The warm welcome we get every year from Wigtown adds to the spirit of the rally. We've also got the benefit of the beautiful setting of the restored county buildings, the bowling green opposite, and the town square, all of which help characterise the event".