of the HTMFs have been based in or around Dingwall, the county town of Ross-shire.
The National Hotel is the established main venue for the major concerts and
the Festival club.
'In 1980 Dagger Gordon, Iain MacBeath and Iain 'Mac' MacDonald convinced the successful Dingwall Folk Club to run a traditional music festival in the Ross-shire capital the following year. It successfully shared venues such as the Lower Town Hall, Ross County Club, the National and Royal Hotels and Caley Bars and brought the flavour of our vigorous and varied folk traditions to town. Our festival entered the Scottish folk calendar in 1981 when there were around twenty six such events. Now in 2002 there are over sixty listed in the TMSA calendar along with over thirty Feisean! We've kept to our brief of showcasing the best of Highland traditional talent with a liberal sprinkling of artistes from other Celtic countries and beyond. The cast list on the covers of this programme is proof positive of an ever strengthening tradition in which we are proud to play our part.
Who attends the Festival?
Audiences are composed of various groups. There are passers-by who join in the afternoon street events, stop for a pint, eg. at the Caley bars and at the Mallard. There are the casual listeners who throng the bars, where sessions abound, and there are the 'festival-goers' who pay to attend workshops, concerts and ceilidhs. The main venue in the National Hotel holds around 250 seated listeners, (although the audience rarely stays seated for long!!). Naturally there is also a full programme of sessions, street entertainers and fringe events.
At the planning stage each year funding becomes a bigger and bigger headache. The greater competition, newer and bigger events, often employing full time staff, have sprung up to demand and receive considerable public subsidies from a limited pot. Nevertheless in Dingwall we have continued to blaze the trail with a record of up-and-coming artistes, first appearances and highlights which are the envy of many. Gerry O Connor & Manus Lunny, Wolfstone, Iron Horse, Corrina Hewat, Cathal Hayden, Tommy and Colum Sands, Dremmwel and Martyn Hayes spring to mind as do the many young local players who entered a career in traditional music.
Gibson (HTMF Organiser)