Ayr’s yearly celebration of local folklore – Tamfest – is to return this October after three years of Covid restrictions.

The festival, which is named the famous Robert Burns’ poem, is planning more events and hoping for bigger crowds as anticipation builds.

Festival founder and chair, Meredith McCrindle, said: “I think the fact that we are able to come back is just amazing.”

The Tam o’ Shanter poem, which follows the gruelling misadventure of farmer Tam as he is chased down by spooky creatures, is the festival’s namesake.

Meredith said: “As an American, I hadn’t really heard of Robbie Burns, I peripherally knew him but now I’m living in the heart of ‘Burns country’.

“I remember coming across the Tam o’ Shanter poem. I thought it was one of the greatest stories I have ever heard. It has everything in it, a great character, complex themes and it’s really a story about self-discovery.”

According to Meredith, this year’s celebration will bring back fan favourites like the Trail of Terror.

“Because of the success of the Trail of Terror last year, the council, who have been very big supporters of Tamfest, agreed to allow us to use Rozelle House.

“Meaning we will have a Trail of Terror where you get to see some amazing art installations from Scottish artists, who have brought their own different interpretations.

“The Art Gallery will also be exclusively displaying the art of Craig Campbell. However, the big thing is the reintroduction of the Haunted House, which always sells out.”

The Scottish Ghost company, a paranormal group, will host ghost hunting events in places like the Tam o’ Shanter Inn.

According to Meredith, “the opportunity to follow them into some of the most historical and spooky locations is great and leaves you tripping over yourself with things to do.

“The Tam Pub is a great place to see some ghosts if you are very quiet”

The pub owners said that when they bought the Inn, they “already knew it was haunted” as many staff have “confirmed” but that they “are so excited to have a full ‘Ghost Hunt’ this year.”

The Scottish Ghost Company will also host ghost tours in the depths of Ayr Town Hall where 12 untouched Victorian jail cells lie.

“The thing that makes it scary is the story behind it, they don’t have to make anything up, it’s all there” according to Meredith.

The ghost hunters expressed that they “are excited to have the opportunity to investigate two such locations for this year’s Tam Fest” and that if their “initial site visits are anything to go by, both the Town Hall Jail Cells and the Tam o’ Shanter Inn will provide some amazing evidence of life beyond this life!”

Tamfest was founded in 2015 after Meredith, who had come over to Scotland to finish her postgraduate studies, found herself in Ayr where she set up shop.

“I kept hearing that Ayr was not what it used to be and that it had really gone downhill.

“But the way I was raised is that if you’re going to complain about something, you’ve got to be prepared to roll up your sleeves and come up with a solution.

“The thing I thought was ‘why has no one done this yet, Tam o’ Shanter happened here’.”

As someone with a background in music, Meredith had experience with festivals and worked with local partners to create the event.

However, issues like covid had an impact on Tamfest, forcing it to go virtual.

“We were able to be quite flexible in 2020, so when covid hit, we were able to change gears and keep the core elements.

“When we went virtual, there was a silver lining as we got lots of international attention. We had people from America, New Zealand and Australia taking part. Robert burn is also huge in China and Russia.

“There was even someone from Iceland who tuned in to watch.

“We are keen to keep this international crowd and maybe even draw them into Ayr.”

To Meredith, this festival is about promoting ‘Rabbie Burns’ as other countries like Austria promote figures like Mozart, and ensuring “his legacy and amazing messages live on. That is what I’m wanting accomplish with Tamfest in my own small way.”