WATCH: Thousands flock to Forres Toun Mercat including a very special guest
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IT is estimated that more than 8000 people attended the Toun Mercat on Forres High Street on Friday evening - including a surprise visitor of the utmost distinction!
The usually tri-annual event organised by Forres Community Activities Association (FCAA) was brought forward to coincide with the Queen's Platinum Jubilee - and many people claimed to have spotted the monarch herself giving a right royal wave from the Tolbooth turrets!
Co-organiser, FCAA volunteer Rachel Philp, confirmed 54 stalls, including some owned by High Street shops, offered a variety of fare and entertainment from South Street to Bridge Street.
She said: "There was a good cross section of businesses, charities, community groups, tombola, barbecues, bottle stalls and much more. Some shopkeepers stayed open late and decorated their windows for the Jubilee. Many said the Toun Mercat was an amazing evening and that they did really well. It's hard to tell exactly how many people attended but the entire high street was full from end to end with no dead spots."
Ms Philp's highlights included performances from Forres and District Pipe Band ... and the weather.
She said: "Everyone got on board. There was a real sense of community spirit - it was as if everyone was finally let out of the (Covid) cage!"
FCAA chairman George Alexander also helped with the organisation and running of the event.
He said: "Toun Mercat 2022 was a huge success! An enormous amount of money was spent by residents and visitors. I enjoyed seeing so many relaxed people out enjoying social interaction without fear of the virus.
"The event has become synonymous with Forres and it allows the townspeople to take full control of their high street for a few hours."
With tongue firmly in cheek, he added: "The appearance of the monarch herself just goes to show how popular it is. This was entirely due to the social skills of fellow former Moray Councillor Lorna Creswell and her connections in high places!"
Forres Area Community Trust (FACT) opened the town hall during the Toun Mercat which development manager Debbie Herron also helped organise.
She added: "The pipe band's performances helped make the event, alongside Wave Radio's music and banter.
"We're grateful for all of the hard work from the volunteers who helped deliver the FCAA's first big event since the pandemic. It couldn't have been achieved without their commitment and enthusiasm."