Scotland’s annual celebration of everything ‘bears’ has ended for 2019 in Edinburgh, with thousands raised for charity and the title Mr BearScots going to a Londoner!

30-year-old Andrew Bailie took the title as a packed venue at The Caves cheered him on after what’s been described by organisers as the biggest festival in their 20 year history.

Andrew, who is deaf, said he wanted the deaf and hearing bears to be able to communicate better around each other and even offered some BSL lessons to those at the festival. He told us:

“I [am] astonished and amazed to have won this most important bear title and role in Scotland.”

“It was particularly meaningful for me for two reasons; as I’m half Scottish and as I’m deaf. My father came from Larkhall and so its great for me to be part of Scotland. Historically the deaf community has been a circle set apart from the hearing world, and so it feels great to be so included.”

“It feels like our bear community is now joining together hearing, deaf and disabled bears to create one circle. It will be best for our whole community in the future when our many circles come together to become one.”

BearScotFest 2019 kicked off with a welcome reception at CC Blooms bar in the capital on Friday, including a bear marketplace and a tartan party later in the evening, with the full weekend selling out weeks before it even started.

The weekend continued on Saturday with several activities across the city, including a pool party, walking tours, bear brunch and a kilt party in the evening, with bears, cubs and their admirers from all over the world coming to experience the Scottish bear hospitality!

The climax of the weekend is the Mr BearScots competition and 7 bears braved the stage this year, cheered on by an admiring audience and cheeky hosts Bella & The Bear! With a special raffle taking place during the weekend, a cheque for over £2,000 was presented to LGBT Youth Scotland, showing bears can be gentle and generous, who knew!

Murray Lackenby, Bearscots President told us:

“Thank you to everyone who attended – it’s the guys who come to the weekend who make the weekend what it is… the best little bear event in the world!”

Imagery for this years BearScotFest was inspired by cartoon strips Oor Wullie and The Broons, with special bear sketches created by Bruce Husbands from Edinburgh and they turned out to be a massive hit across the weekend.

Mr BearScots 2019 says he is thankful to all those who supported him and hopes to give something back by supporting deaf people and hearing people communicate more effectively:

“I was full of mixed emotions to be standing on stage with so many other handsome and talented bears who were part of the competition, and at the same time I was so pleased and thankful for all the hundreds of bears who watched the competition and voted for me.”

“I am looking forward to focussing on and encouraging accessible and inclusive events for all, particularly for deaf people and British Sign Language (BSL) users. I want to try and teach the basics of BSL so we can all communicate with each other, and we can see people come together.”

BearScotsFest is back for 2020 with dates already announced for October next year, don’t miss out!

Pic credit: Will Gregory

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