Kirriemuir has much to recommend it.
From the Wee Red Toon’s links to JM Barrie through to the amazing range of activities undertaken by the community for the community, it has good reason to be proud of itself.
And in amongst all of that is the unique niche it has carved out globally amongst rock fans.
The way in which Kirrie has become a mecca for followers of Bon Scott of AC/DC is a truly remarkable achievement.
Not only do fans flock to Angus for the weekend of Bonfest, they also travel throughout the year to be pictured with the iconic statue of Ronald Belford ‘Bon’ Scott, whose life and legacy is celebrated at the festival. There is only one other statue of Scott, and that’s in Fremantle, Western Australia where his family eventually settled after emigrating.
I’ll confess, I’m not a fan of AC/DC. My musical tastes lie more in the punk era.
But you don’t have to be a follower of the band to recognise what an astonishing event Bonfest is.
I was in the town on the Friday of the Festival for a constituency surgery. It was positively bouncing. And the sight of rock fans congregating around the Peter Pan statue in the middle of the town, belting out AC/DC songs was a sight to behold.
The way in which this event is hosted by Kirriemuir says much about the folk of the town and the pride they take in one of their sons. Bonfest would not be the success it is without the many local volunteers who ensure its delivery.
The manner in which Bonfest has grown since its inception in 2007 speaks volumes for the vision and dedication of its founder, lifelong AC/DC fan, Graham Galloway. Graham, his colleague, John Crawford and the rest of the crew do this entirely for the love of Bon Scott and the music.
And let’s not forget that the income raised by the festival is invested back into the local community, in particular with the upkeep of the DD8 Music, its studio which is available to the public as a rehearsal space and recording studio, and to burgeoning youth groups around Angus.
Without the opportunities that DD8 Music and Bonfest give to locals, a lot of youngsters with a love for music would not have the confidence within themselves that they have now.
The festival also helps to put Kirriemuir on the festival map, boosting the town’s profile and attracting visitors who might not otherwise have discovered its many charms.
And beyond all of that, Bonfest brings together locals and visitors alike to celebrate the life and music of one of Kirriemuir’s most famous sons.
So well done everyone concerned. You all rock!