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Böðvar Bjarki kicks off fire festival season

Scalloway guizer jarl Peter Tait on Friday morning - Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media

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SHETLAND’S ancient capital of Scalloway is all set for its annual fire festival – the village’s biggest community event of the year.

Traditionally the first of Shetland’s eleven fire festivals, the Scalloway festivities kicked off on Friday morning with Guizer Jarl Peter Tait and his squad of Vikings parading their galley Fyeal through the streets of the village.

Dressed in bear-themed suits, the jarl takes on the mantle of the brave warrior Böðvar Bjarki who had a reputation as a ‘bear-like’ fighter.

Looking ahead to the torch-lit procession and burning of his galley, the jarl said in Scalloway the guizer jarl is selected by his squad, which made it a great privilege.

“It is an honour to represent them and to put on a good show for the general public,” he said.

The director of local building firm DITT said the fire festival was the culmination of a particularly busy year for him which had been further sweetened by his marriage to his partner Amanda in September.

“I wouldn’t necessarily recommend getting married and being the guizer jarl within four months of each other. It has been a busy time,” he quipped.

After meeting at the boating club and popping in to the NAFC Marine Centre for a bacon roll earlier in the day, his squad embarked on the traditional round of visits to the play group, the Eventide care home and the various schools in the area before hosting an afternoon of entertainment for senior citizens in the Scalloway Boating Club.

The men are hoping to be able to put up their feet for half an hour in “a secret location” before leading the torch-lid procession of between 200 and 300 guizers taking the galley to Port Arthur where she will be consumed by the flames while floating in the sea.