ON a driech day in 1990, more than 30,000 Scots of all ages, backgrounds and (almost) all political persuasions came together in a field to demand democracy.

The event, A Day for Scotland, united chart music and trade unionism, comedy and the constitution.

Hue and Cry headlined, with back up from an incredible roster of homegrown talent including Runrig, Deacon Blue and The Shamen. Carol Laula played, as did folk favourites Hamish Henderson and Dick Gaughan, while other entertainment came from Elaine C Smith, the 7:84 Theatre Company and more. STV Saturday morning superstar Glen Michael turned out for younger attendees.

Thirty years on, experts are preparing to commemorate the Stirling gig’s “important role in Scottish political history” with a virtual event, and they’re asking the public to help them re-evaluate and document this “festival for the future”.

Dr Peter Lynch, of the Scottish Political Archive at Stirling University, said A Day for Scotland “was a key event not only for Stirling, but in linking popular culture and politics in the campaign for a Scottish parliament”.

READ MORE: Michael Russell: The truth behind Westminster’s hostility to Scotland

He added: “Organised by the STUC and Stirling District Council, flyers promised ‘a positive celebration of Scottish life – which says we must decide our future – no-one else’.

“The political overtones were unmissable and raised a stir – not least with the local MP, Michael Forsyth, a Scottish Office minister in the Thatcher government.”

Regardless of Forsyth’s opinion, Lynch says, the event “was widely viewed as a major success”.

The family-friendly festival took place in the shadow of Stirling Castle at Falleninch Field, now known as City Park.

The exact number of attendees is not known as it was not ticketed, but estimates suggest that more than 30,000 went along. Support for the day came from MPs, council leaders, theatres, actors and broadcasters. Backing was so broad it united Wet Wet Wet and the Scottish Milk Marketing Board.

The enterprise was a joint initiative between Stirling District Council and the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC). Writing in the event programme, its general secretary Campbell Christie heralded the “unique display of unity”, stating that “for once every section of cultural life from sport, rock, music to the theatre is represented in a day of celebration” that was also “a day of protest”.

“We can be proud of our rich culture”, he wrote, “and yet at the same time be denied the basic right to decide for ourselves how we are governed”.

“The Scottish people are no longer prepared to allow this demand to be ignored”, he went on. “The future is ours.”

Roz Foyer, the current STUC general secretary, said celebration had “brought people together”. “While we have achieved the original goal of a Scottish Parliament,” she went on, “the work goes on to strengthen the voice of working-class people in Scotland. We need stronger workplace democracy and we must reinvigorate democracy at a local level breathing life into our communities the length and breadth of the country. Thirty years is a long time but the fundamental message has not changed. People must have a stake in their life, their workplace and their community and must be empowered to shape their own future.”

READ MORE: The life and awful death of the Scottish Borders' Robin Hood

Stirling Council says events at City Park remain a “cornerstone” of its economic and tourism strategies. There’s nothing like A Day for Scotland on the horizon, but it points out that Runrig made their “triumphant return” to the field in summer 2018 with their Last Dance farewell gigs, which brought in

£7 million and visitors from 32 different countries.

Events like these, it said, “live long in the hearts and minds” of those who attend.

That’s certainly true for musician and journalist Pat Kane of Hugh and Cry, who, alongside festival organiser Lisa Whytock and others, will be amongst the speakers at a free virtual event hosted by Stirling University on July 14.

Tickets are available from the Eventbrite website and archivists hope members of the public will volunteer their souvenir items, pictures and memories. “It was a driech day, weather-wise,” Kane said. “We were all worried when we turned up that it was going to be a literal damp squib. But there was a lot of joy and waving flags in the crowds before the huge stage. I felt proud that such a diverse crew from Scottish civil society, and Scottish culture, had taken to this stage.

“I’ll be honest, and admit that I also did feel a little impatient with it all. I’d travelled solidly over to Jim Sillars’s SNP at that point. I was convinced of the urgency of independence, for economic reasons and in terms of getting rid of nukes.

“I currently have my head in my hands, remembering that we’d written a Madonna-esque and indy-themed version of We Shall Overcome.

“It’s an important event,” he went on. “Nowadays I would say we need as many of them as possible in the current independence movement. All Under One Banner is manifesting that Day for Scotland spirit in its marches, but can you imagine Calvin Harris, SOPHIE and the Twilight Sad lining up under such a patriotic, political and constitutional banner today?

READ MORE: The hard truth behind the Tories' 'No Scottish Border' line

“Maybe there’s a better balance between ‘movement’ and ‘leadership’ these days. The network society empowers people in communities and towns to act together and shape their own futures, with useful tools to hand. It’s a politics where people face each other’s and support and mobilise each other rather than look up to preening chancers on a lofty rock stage. That’s almost certainly for the better.”

Dr Scott Hames of Stirling University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities believes cultural activism played a “key role in the campaign for devolution”, with A Day for Scotland a “fascinating example” of this. “It gave the STUC and pro-devolution campaigners a chance to connect with a much greater audience outside of party politics,” he said, “and a means to connect with young people and communities through the voices of musicians.”

Archivist Sarah Bromage has found leaflets, backstage passes, photographs and even a festival hoodie amongst the Day for Scotland items in the unit’s collections. “We are really looking forward to sharing these and to hearing people’s memories of the day,” she said, “as well as hopefully collecting more photographs and other artefacts for the archive.”

To send in your memories, email scottishpoliticalarchive@stir.ac.uk. To attend the session, register at www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-day-for-scotland-30-years-on-tickets-108861541802