By Warren Pratt
The principal event of the social calendar in Garmouth is the celebration of the ‘Maggie Fair'. People from the village and surrounding communities come together for the opening of the fair by a local dignitary, followed by an outdoor market at The Cross, and then traditional games and teas in the park. Funds collected are distributed to local charities and used for local amenities. In olden times it must have been quite a sight; it was a ‘merry, merry market day', with hordes of stalls (‘stannies'). There are descriptions of gingerbread ‘mannies', rabbits with currants for eyes, barley sugar and the ‘Peninisular hero', the ‘Captain', who doled out a halfpenny to each boy and girl and terrorised with a stick any who attempted to come round for a second time. Almost every household, regardless of their status, dined on salmon and raised a toddy on Maggie Fair day.
But who was Maggie and what exactly does the fair, one of the oldest traditional fairs of its type in Scotland, celebrate? The answers require a short historical preamble, sometimes violent, so nervous types should not read on!
The fair is inextricably linked with the first landing in Scotland of the ‘Merry Monarch', Charles II, in 1650. He was the last true Scottish king, crowned according to the rites of the ancient Scottish coronation service. However, the origins of the fair are older, possibly pagan.
Built in the 1890’s, the tower is an early example of 19th century concrete construction. This Category C Listed building stands in a prominent position above the village and has graced Garmouth’s skyline for more than 100years.
Though no longer used as a reservoir to improve the water supply to both villages, it has been retained as a landmark on one of the most spectacular viewpoints of the area. Information boards highlight local and historical features and the ground surrounding the benches is planted with indigenous wild flowers.