Last weekend we all visited the local, gigantic, annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games. I took the kids and went last year for the first time--this year John agreed to go along, though I think he thought the idea was kinda silly. Silly? C'mon now, where else can you go to listen to a rock band featuring bagpipes?
There were craftspeople making and selling things everywhere. This man (a Scottish immigrant) was carving celtic symbols into stones. He talked a lot and had much longer stories to tell about various stones (both already carved and not yet carved) than one would really think possible. I wasn't quite sure why anyone would sit and carve celtic symbols into stone and I was less sure why people would buy them.
These people were all dressed in costume from, I don't know, some past century or another. The idea here was you go up and talk to the people and ask them about their clothes and their furnishings and so forth and they'd tell you about that period in history and how people lived. The girls thought they all looked too strange to approach and speak to though.
As we walked around a few of the friendlier, more outgoing participants managed to get the girls to talk to them, and even pose with them for a picture.
After a while the girls got more curious about the displays and props.
Next we watched some sheep dog trials and then visited and petted some Clydesdale horses, visited some handlers with their birds of prey on display, and then watched all the different Scottish clan representatives march in to the area where the games would go on later in the day.
It took quite a while for everyone to march in, I couldn't begin to count the number of family clans represented there. We saw and waved to John's "clan" representative and then when the ceremony concluded we wandered over to the clan tent area and we found John's.
Once we got there John seemed more enthusiastic about this whole festival than I expected him to be. He signed us in and met the other folks who stopped by, and we all met the clan organization representative who we saw in the ceremony and they talked a little about where each of their families originated. The girls thought it was neat to be reminded of where their name comes from. Kate and Allison wore shirts with their last name and family tartan on them, which was met with lots of positive comments in the clan tent and throughout the day.
And on we went, to look at all the people dressed in a way that fit right in around there, but would gather a lot of stares if they were anywhere else that day. "Daddy should be wearing HIS kilt!" the girls observed a few times.
And we watched some of the pipe and drum bands compete:
As they did last year, the girls had a great day. There was so much to see and do, and though there were some vendors selling meat pies and fish & chips, the girls opted for hot dogs and ice cream, which always help make for a successful outing.
We went to a children's area where the girls all played some old Scottish games for prizes, like ring toss, darts, and the always popular "Haggis Toss":
And golf, of course. Opa would be so proud, I told them.
Lastly we watched older kids compete in highland dancing , which I didn't get a picture of this time around, but I did last year:
Erin asked, "Do the girls have to wear their hair up in a bun like that?" "Yes," I told her, "it's part of the outfit and it keeps their hair out of their face while they dance."
"I'm going to learn Scottish dancing and dance on that stage when I'm older," she advised me, "But I have to wait until my hair is long enough to put in a bun." At least she has clarity on the amount of time and work that's involved.
We were at the festival for more than six hours and we never did make it back over to the main arena to see the actual Highland Games, John reminded me as we left, right after we stopped back by that celtic stone carver and selected a stone for our front garden area. Thoroughly useless, but somehow kinda cool we concluded. As for seeing the Highland Games, ah well, there is always next year. Plenty of time for John to get a family clan kilt of his own.