And as dedicated volunteers get ready to kick off this year’s Kilsyth Civic Week on Saturday, June 9, there is a particular sense of civic pride and people power ingrained into those five decades of fun.
This year’s theme is quite simply Kilsyth Civic Week: Past, Present and Future.
As for preparations, there is event organisation and then there’s civic week!
One individual who is absolutely synonymous with the event is long-term Kilsyth councillor and North Lanarkshire provost Jean Jones, who has been civic week secretary since 1986.
Jean said:“In 1984 I was watching the parade and complained about the lack of floats.
“Somebody said: ‘what have you done to make it work?’ and I said nothing but vowed to do something the next year – I’m still here!
“Over the years we have seen the popularity of parade participation come and go but the park has always been mobbed on the day.
“We have tried various venues and while Colzium is the most picturesque, the logistics are better in the Burngreen.
“Every year it becomes harder to fundraise but with a small, yet very hard-working, committee we get there. We have fun doing it but we are always looking for new volunteers.
“Various events have been tried over the years – some have fallen due to lack of volunteers but thanks to local groups we have continued to evolve our programme year on year.
“Every year we meet so many nice people and the enthusiasm of everyone participating makes it all worthwhile.
“We now aim mainly for a walking parade. We encourage our young people, through schools, to be eco friendly so walking and little or no vehicles in the parade reflects this ethos.”
The youngest committee member, Amy Jarvie, is equally enthusiastic about the rewards of being involved and admitted that it has become a way of life.
She said: “I first got involved in civic week in 2007 when my school allocated me the role of flower girl.
“The following year I joined the committee.
“I’ve always been the youngest committee member but it doesn’t stop me from contributing to meetings and events.
“I was given the role of programme editor and I’ve done it for many years.
“As I’ve gotten older, more jobs have been given to me – they are always enjoyable. Civic week is hard work but it is always fun.”
The current civic week chairwoman is Kilsyth councillor Heather McVey.
She said: “This year is my 30th civic week as a committee member.
“It has been a hugely important part of my life.
“I was involved in helping out at the talent show then was asked as a young teenager to host it.
“Volunteering has enabled me to grow in confidence through my teens, to learn skills like public speaking and relating well to other people.
“It’s given me an opportunity to take on responsibility, while being supported to do so.
“I now share that by encouraging new volunteers.
“Every year has high points and that’s what keeps it interesting and exciting.
“It has evolved but the things that people love have been retained.
“There are children who are auditioning for talent shows whose grandparents have appeared in them!
“My own first civic week memory was as a toddler in 1976/7 on a float dressed as a pirate or a French person – I was wearing stripes!
“I was on the playgroup float; it rained and I got dyed with purple drips from the crepe paper!”
So what can visitors expect from the landmark extravaganza this year?
Heather revealed: “Old favourites are making a come back like the inter school competitions, talent show, golf medal and the poetry and art events.
“There will also be pop up concerts in the band stand throughout civic week and a new event too.
“We also have young volunteers making a documentary on our theme – past, present and future.
“We are exploring and celebrating the past, acknowledging our present and shaping our future with members of the community highlighting what they want from civic week future.
“We will showcase that later in the year.
“It is all about the community spirit. That was as true in our first civic week as it is today, in our 50th.”
Facts behind the festivities
In 1968, the first Kilsyth Civic Week took place in Burngreen Park. It was held to celebrate the signing of the treaty between Kilsyth and its French twin of Meulan.
The signatories were Provost Malcolm Gillies for Kilsyth and Monsieur Lecomte, his Gallic counterpart.
The coveted prize of best float was won by the City Bakeries. The fancy dress contest was won by Ann Healy from Irvine Place whose sister Karen also got the prize for most original costume.
The first Kilsyth Civic Week queen was effectively the winner of the Miss Kilsyth contest. She was Agnes Cowan who attended functions in her royal role with attendants, Fiona Jarvie and Allan Wright.
The Miss Kilsyth tag ceased being used in 1976 when it was officially replaced with the title used today.
The young lady in question was selected not via any contest but deemed as a worthy recipient by a local high school. The first of these newly titled monarchs was Barbara McAllister.
Having been originally run by the town council, the event was later taken over by Kilsyth Community Council thanks to local government re-organisation.
It was then run by a sub-committee of the community council but would later become an organisation in its own right, as it remains today.
Preparations for this year’s event are now very much underway. But anyone who would like to get involved in the parade, have a stall, volunteer or take a slot in the concert being held at Burngreen Bandstand should get in touch with Jean on 01236 822960 or email [email protected]
The event also has its very on Facebook page. Organisers would love the page to be tagged in your photos!