TWENTY-THOUSAND festival goers were left in the cold on Saturday when a willow idol fled the site of its execution.
The midnight burning of the famous Wickerman could not take place at the eponymous Scottish festival as the sacrificial victim escaped from the field some hours before the carefully scheduled pagan rite.
And an extensive search has been launched by police and mountain rescue crews to find the effigy who is believed to be at large in the Galloway hills.
The man is reported to have run from the Dundrennan hill where he was staying as a guest after a tip-off from a concerned wicker welfare officer.
Inspector Upfront from the Kirkcudbright constabulary, who is leading the investigation, said: “It is understood that the Wickerman had some concerns with his Saturday night performance after he had watched the burning of the Wicker Boy — an alleged colleague of his — during the Friday evening revelries. It is believed that there was a heated discussion between the Wickerman and property owner Jamie Gilroy before the former proceeded at full speed in a south easterly direction down the hill and into the cover of the forest.”
One member of the press, Standard reporter Craig Robertson, managed to snap the flight of the Wickerman in his bid for freedom. The photograph is being examined by forensics.
Eye witnesses report that the Wickerman appeared agitated during the Saturday afternoon and fled the field during the performance of the Yardbirds on the main stage. It is believed that his wicker arms were too stiff to move his hands to his ears.
Police have released information on a recovered note left on the site where the Wickerman once stood. It reads: “Bring back Eric Clapton, Jimmy page or Jeff Beck and I’ll turn myself in. I apologise for my absence at the festival, but I just could not take the atrocious musical line-up any more.” It was signed “Wickerman.”
The Wickerman is described as 30-foot tall with medium complexion, with no distinguishing marks and wearing no clothes. “He won’t be difficult to pick out from a crowd,” continued Inspector Upfront, “’cos he’s about24 feet taller than the average festival goer. ”
Members of the public are being warned that the Wickerman is extremely dangerous near a naked flame and should not be approached with a lit cigarette.
Anyone with any information on his whereabouts is asked to contact the incident room on 0845 600 701 or any police officer. Alternatively, information may be left, anonymously if preferred, with freephone Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.