Question marks remain over Oban events

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Decisions still have to be made around three major events in Oban which provide an end-of-season boost for town businesses and local tourism.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Thursday that live outdoor events could potentially return on an ‘indicative date’ of August 24 with social distancing in place and barring any spike in Scotland’s coronavirus cases.

But in spite of the announcement, question marks still remain over the go-ahead of some high-profile events on the Oban calendar.

Andy Spence, chief executive of BID4Oban, admitted it was ‘difficult to say’ at this stage what might happen.

He said events still lined up include Motorfest scheduled for September 20; the Fireworks Display on November 5 and the Reindeer Parade on November 18.

Mr Spence said: ‘We have not made a decision yet on any of these events and will be taking advice and a steer from Argyll and Bute Council, so whilst we welcome the changes (announced by the First Minister), at this moment in time we are not in a position to make any decisions but we will be making decisions soon.’

Officials are reluctant to make any commitment now with the coronavirus situation still far from certain and community sensitivities around drawing large crowds to the town.

Kevin Devine, chairman of Oban and District Classic Vehicle Club, said the Motorfest event had grown in reputation in the five-to-six years it had been going.

It draws around 90 classic cars and vehicles to the area from across Argyll and Bute, Glasgow and the Borders, including many car club members who stay over.

Mr Devine said advice from environmental health officials is awaited and while no formal decision has been made, his own feeling was that it was doubtful it could go ahead.

The very nature of classic car events involved people interacting with each other, he explained, with Oban’s event a relaxed and friendly gathering where modern, classic and unusual vehicles provide talking points between vehicle enthusiasts and curious spectators.

Mr Spence said the fireworks display – which sees a spectacular show over the bay – was easier to manage because people could be socially distanced along the esplanade.

He said it may be that this year the Reindeer Parade would take place during the day. However, the mass gathering around Station Square for the lights switch-on is likely to go because of concerns about crowding, as previously it has drawn an estimated 4,000 people.