An action-packed programme of events has been lined up for the first ever Big Weekend in Biggar.
It has been organised by the Board of Trustees which runs the Corn Exchange.
The aim is to showcase how flexible the venue is, in the hopes of attracting more people to use the community-run venue.
And the centre-piece of the weekend is a cabaret dinner, featuring Billy Reid’s show, Watch Closely.
Billy was voted Scottish Close-Up Magician of the Year last year.
His show Watch Closely was a complete sell-out at the Edinburgh International Magic Festival in 2014 and 2017 and promises to leave you questioning reality!
Other well-known local performers, such as Anthony Bowers, are also scheduled to make an appearance over the course of the weekend, from Friday, March 22, to Sunday, March 24.
It will herald an exciting new chapter in the Corn Exchange’s history books.
Malcolm Muir, chairman of the Board of Trustees, explained: “Biggar Corn Exchange is more than just a building. It’s a source of entertainment and place to learn new skills.
“It’s also a community of regular audience members, volunteers, performers and friends.
“The Big Weekend marks the beginning of an exciting new phase in the Corn Exchange’s evolution, which will see us hosting an increased and more varied programme of events.
“Looking back over almost ten years since we took over operation of the venue, we’ve achieved a lot – not least securing the future of this amazing resource for the people of Biggar.
“But our priority now is to increase visitor numbers, which means putting on more events to appeal to a wider audience, particularly those who have never visited or who come through the doors only rarely.
“So people can expect to see more theatre, more music, more cinema, live streaming, themed events and community activities.”
It’s a time of change for the charity, not least because it will be saying goodbye to a number of trustees this year, including former chairman, Mike Chad, who has been an integral part of the team from the very beginning.
And there are many new challenges ahead too, which is why the Trustees are now hoping to attract new blood into the ranks.
Malcolm added: “A key challenge for the board this year will be handing over more responsibility for operating the venue to our volunteers.
“So if people have time and skills to offer, and are interested in getting involved, we’d love to hear from them.
“Later this year, we’ll also be giving ourselves a makeover with the launch of new branding.
“This will be an important step in shifting the emphasis away from the Corn Exchange building and focusing instead on what goes on inside it.
“We want to be more consistent in the face we present to the world outside.
“We’ll also be opening up membership of our charity to anyone who supports what we do and wants to have a say in how we are governed.
“So the Big Weekend is the start of something big.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun and I hope people enjoy the great events we’ve lined up.”
The Friends of the Corn Exchange have been busy preparing for and publicising the Big Weekend.
Chairwoman Gill Dunn said: “The aim of the Big Weekend is to encourage more people to hire the venue and attract wider audiences to our events.
“The Corn Exchange is owned by South Lanarkshire Council but run by a charity and hard-working team of volunteers and supporters.
“The building is quite expensive to run which is why we have to make sure it pays for itself.
“So the aim of the Big Weekend is to showcase how flexible the building is by staging a variety of different events in the venue.
“The programme will ably demonstrate the building’s many different uses.
“And we’ve leafleted every home in Biggar, as well as the surrounding villages, to get as many people through the doors as we possibly can.”
Biggar Corn Exchange is currently home to Biggar Theatre Workshop and Corn Exchange Young Performers, as well as being an important hub for other local community groups.
You can support the charity, Biggar Corn Exchange Ltd, by volunteering or becoming a Friend from just £10 per year.
For more information, visit the website at biggarcornexchange.org.uk.
Don’t miss a second of the fun
Here’s a brief diary of what’s on during the Big Weekend.
Friday, March 22, 2pm to 3.30pm, Tea Dance with the Big Weekend Band and Anthony Bowers. Tickets £8, with tea and coffee and table service.
Sure to set your feet tapping!
Friday, March 22, 7.30pm to 9.30pm, Splinter Productions present Get A Life. John Shedden and Finlay McLean perform a series of weird and wonderful sketches so wacky and off-the- wall they will boggle your mind! Tickets £8 with a licensed bar.
Saturday, March 23, 10am to noon, The Big Cake Off. Enjoy a demonstration of cake decorating from an expert team then have a go yourself. Tickets £5 adult, £3 child. All materials provided.
Saturday, March 23, 2.30pm to 3.30pm, The McDougalls Safari Adventure. Get ready to go wild with The McDougalls in their brand new live show. Tickets £5 adult, £3 child.
Saturday, March 23, 7pm to 11pm, Eat, Drink and Watch Closely, Enjoy a Big Weekend cocktail on arrival, followed by a three-course dinner. Billy Reid will then move around the tables demonstrating his magic skills. Tickets £25, with a licensed bar.
Sunday, March 24, 11.30am to 1pm, Ask the Gardeners. Gardening in Biggar can have its challenges so a panel of experts will help. Tickets £5.
Sunday, March 24, 2.30pm to 4pm, The Big Party. A childrens’ party for P3 to P5 pupils from local primaries. Tickets are free of charge.
Sunday, March 24, 7.30pm to 9.30pm. Film night: Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (PG). Paul Newman and Robert Redford star in the classic 1969 American western. Tickets £5.
The Big Weekend box office is in the foyer at Biggar Corn Exchange or book tickets now on 07593 344065 or at www.biggarcornexchange.org.uk.