Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022 Project: Crossing the Ken

Families of Glenkens turned out on a glorious sunny day to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Stories and the bicentenary of the iconic Ken Bridge. 150 people joined a parade which carried puppet dragons, birds and airplanes to under the Ken Bridge. Local story teller Anne Errington told tales of ancient Scottish folklore mixed with stories from New Galloway.

Under the beautiful arches of the Ken Bridge, families picnicked next to Mark Zygadlo’s Water Organ. A fantastical contraption based on an 18 ft Catamaran, its bellows are powered by the river current to play music that has been composed by sensors picking up the speed and turbulence of the river. Further music was provided by Pete Garnet & Lucy Smith, and children (and adults!) enjoyed a silent disco and cardboard bridge building.

Over 100 people then gathered in the evening for the build up to the Ken Bridge light switch on. GCAT board member John Crallan thanked Drax and a team of volunteers who installed the lighting and prepared the site. Food was provided by New Galloway Community Enterprises and GCAT volunteers. Entertainment came from folk duo Elaine Davidson & Pete Garnett & young pipers from the South West Piping and Drumming Academy. Then soprano Claudia Wood & pianist Katherine Durran brought proceedings to a head, leading the countdown for Jamie Herd from Drax to flick the switch and turn on the lights he had installed.

Helen Keron - Executive Manager of Glenkens Community & Arts Trust said

‘The Ken Bridge bicentenary celebrations were a real community effort from across the Glenkens, and it was such a pleasure to see them all come to fruition on Saturday night. The family events were delightful, with the music, water organ, puppets and storytelling, and then the evening light switch-on was really dramatic, with the talented musicians and the glorious setting of the Ken Bridge Hotel providing the perfect background to a glorious community evening. Thanks so much to everyone involved, from the attendees to the artists to the funders to the volunteers, and to Drax for the bridge lighting – it really was amazing.’

The Ken Bridge was designed by engineer John Rennie & completed 200 years ago, permanently linking the communities of the Glenkens and forming an iconic Glenkens landmark.

Other outcomes include: a lighting installation was on display from dusk to midnight until September 25 2022. A photography exhibition on the Ken Bridge was displayed at CatStrand until October 1st. ‘Crossing The Ken’, an afternoon conference on the stories of the people who bridged the river, was presented by The Glenkens Story, at CatStrand on Saturday September 24th 2022. The Closing Party occurred on Sunday September 25th at the Ken Bridge Hotel as part of the Glenkens Folk weekend. This was a free event with music by the Galloway Agreement and a specially commissioned short film premiere.
The Crossing the Ken project involved a number of local organisations and was been made possible by support from DG Unlimited, the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership, the Loch Ken Trust, the Blackcraig Wind Farm community benefit fund through the Glenkens & District Trust and Foundation Scotland, and Drax. The programme was also supported by the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. This fund is being delivered in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland with support from National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to National Lottery players.

The Storyteller for this event was Anne Errington - Catstrand, High Street, New Galloway, Castle Douglas DG7 3RN
Reg Scottish Charity SC032050


Group gathering beneath a bridge at event
Ⓒ Ian Biggar

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