The North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival 2018 Report – Heather Woodbridge

Published on 26th August 2018 under OSF Events
The North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival 2018 Report – Heather Woodbridge

2018 North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival Report

It has been a whirlwind two weeks but the sun has now set on The North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival for 2018. Over the two weeks we have had over 43 dyke building volunteers restore a whopping 250 paces of Sheepdyke. A huge achievement in just 10 days.

The dyke building took place each weekday with a 3h morning session and a 3h afternoon session with 2hours for lunch and a rest in between.

This year’s volunteers joined us form far and wide with folk attending from within the island, mainland Orkney, Scotland, England, Canada and as far away as Hong Kong! Just to name a few!

Not only was Sheepdyke build, friendships and new connections were also forged in a fortnight of hard work and comradery with evening events, the perfect way to relax and take in the island’s unique culture and heritage.

The cultural aspect of the festival has expanded over the years and there are many opportunities for expanding this in future festivals.

The North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival 2019 dates will be announced soon so please visit our website and follow the North Ronaldsay Sheep Festival on Facebook for updates!

Below is a quick summary of main events.

Monday 30th July and 6th August
Daytime: The North Ronaldsay Wool Mill ran afternoon tours for visitors both Mondays of the Festival.
Evening: Kevin Woodbridge gave festival volunteers a talk on the unique management of North Ronaldsay sheep highlighting the reasons for why the Sheepdyke is so important to the island and the day to day management of the communal flock.

Tuesday 31st July
Evening: We were lucky enough to have a returning volunteer, Brian Saunders, who gave a very interesting talk on Honey bees, bee keeping and the Great Yellow bumblebee which is present in Orkney and one of the rarest of the UK’s bees.

Wednesday 1st August
Daytime: Tours of the North Ronaldsay Lighthouse were running both Wednesday mornings of the festival.
Evening: Helga Scott gave us an insight into her recent journey into the investigation of setting up an island tannery. An insightful talk on a subject with huge potential on North Ronaldsay.

Thursday 2nd August
Daytime: Free felting workshops were run by Sam Bullen both Thursdays of the festival. Some fantastic pieces were produced from these workshops, much using North Ronaldsay wool and rovings.
Evening: The Festival enjoyed local traditional music from the Aim family: Magnus, Graham and Jessica who have returned again to play at the festival this year!

Friday 3rd August
Daytime: Traditional Dancing workshop run by islanders. In preparation for the dance the following evening, visitors had the opportunity to learn some local dances beforehand.
Evening/Afternoon: The North Ronaldsay Trust ran a donation only BBQ at the island Community Centre where The Great Island Bake-Off judging took place. 1st place was won by Laura Stenzel with her Vegan Chocolate bites, 2nd place was won by Thorfinn Scott with his ‘Funky Sheep’ Shortbread and 3rd place won by Mark Holbrook with his Mutton Pies (North Ronaldsay mutton – of course).

Saturday 4th August
Morning: An island Treasure Hunt with questions about the island’s two lighthouses, the meanings of dialect words with many answers only found by visiting certain places!

Evening: The first week island dance was run in partnership with the North Ronaldsay Community Association. We enjoyed fantastic music from Kitty Halcrow and Karen Tweed for dancing, held at the Community Centre. A newly wedded couple shared their special day celebrating with the festival with the evening dance as their wedding reception. A few unexpected extras were in store for the couple with a surprise bride’s cog and wedding cake. To add to the excitement, the North Ronaldsay Trust’s grand prize draw was held during a short break from the dancing with snacks and refreshments.
Sunday 5th August
FOOTBALL RESULT – Visitors win on penalties!
Visitors vs Islanders 0:0 at halftime time, 1:1 at full time with Visitors winning on penalties 3:1.
Opening goal by Christopher Scott for the Islanders and JD Price equalising for the Visitors.
Thank you to all the players for a great match and a special thank you to Graham Scott for setting up the pitch.

Monday 6th August
Daytime: Second day of Wool Mill tours
Evening: Talk by Kevin Woodbridge on traditional sheep management for those volunteering only in week two.

Tuesday 7th August
Daytime: Wildlife Bingo walk led by Alex Wright. Festival goers learned about the wildlife the island has to offer with a prize given to the first person who spotted all species on their bingo sheet!
Evening: Ukulele workshop with Claire McGuire. Popular in previous years, we once again had the pleasure of learning the basics of the ukulele, a few songs and had a great time!

Wednesday 8th August
(Daytime: Lighthouse Tours)
Evening: The North Ronaldsay Film Club ran a private screening of ‘Rams’ at the Community Centre.

Thursday 9th August
Daytime: Second Free felting workshop with Sam Bullen.
Evening: Playclub reading, with Claire McGuire. After a casting a few days prior, two very entertaining plays were performed in the style of a radio play.

Friday 10th August – The Final day of the festival.
Daytime: Island produce Showcase, with produce grown and made on the island on display and to be bought on donation.
Evening: The final farewell dance run in partnership with the North Ronaldsay Community Association. The night started off with a table quiz at 8pm and afterwards enjoyed music from Kitty Halcrow and Fionn McArthur for dancing, held at the Community Centre.


As Festival Coordinator, I would like to offer a huge thank you to all our dyking volunteers, our supporters and sponsors, The North Ronaldsay Trust, The North Ronaldsay Community Association and all those who made everything happen behind the scenes. Without you all, this important festival could not go ahead.

Heather Woodbridge

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