Though I admit at the outset of this post that I only travelled across town, and it is a small town, I like to find new experiences in unexpected places. And, I would classify new experiences as one of the primary reasons for travel. So, here we go …
Yesterday, in the midst of cold weather and overcast skies, I joined friends for a trip to the local Scottish Festival. And, even though I’m not Scottish, (all of the family crest research episodes have come back as English) I did have a very good time.
The 57th Scottish Gathering and Highland Games was held in Salado, Texas, from 9 through 11 November. As a casual observer, I’d say the event could be broken down into about four distinct activities, which seemed to offer something interesting for every person who stopped.
First, there was an area in which representatives from each of the recognized klans were all located. I found this area definitely interesting. Many of the klan’s booth areas hosted historical information with maps and individual klan tartan colors. Others showed historic swords and items that their individual klan produced (think whiskey). All of the different representatives were happy to sit and tell stories and provide information.
Second, there was your standard craft fair area with numerous tents selling every end of Scottish oriented paraphernalia. There were t-shirts, kilts, crafts, jewelry, books, swords, knifes, and the like. I enjoyed this area quite well, and made several turns around the tents.
Third section, I would classify as entertainment. This was broken into two different sections; the dancing and the bagpipes. The dancing section consisted of competitions between groups of young men and women performing traditional dances, and was quite entertaining. The second section was the band competition. Performing groups consisted of drum and bagpipe, and ranged from school band groups to adult performance groups. The band area collected most of the spectators and everyone was obviously entertained.
The fourth section, and collector of most all the remaining spectators, was the area where the Highland Games were contested. Sturdy men and women decked out in klan colored kilts and fashionable competition t-shirts competed in the various events. I stayed to watch sections of the bail toss, the hammer throw, and the caber toss. It was spirited and enjoyable to be sure.
Though the weather wasn’t the best, it didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of anyone that showed up. The center of small town Salado was full and parking was definitely at a premium. I parked toward the end of town, by the local craft beer brewery, Barrow Brewing Company. After a solid turn around the festival, I walked back to the brewery for a beer and some heat. It will sound bad, but 45 degrees in Texas is damned cold! I like the summer heat of the desert much more than the winter cold of the high desert plans.
If you happen by a Scottish Festival, I say stop in and take a look around. I think you will find something enjoyable as you make your way through it. Wether it be the people, the scenery, or the spectacle, there is a little something for everyone.
One end of the klan representatives area.
One of the bands warming up before competition time.
the tossing of the caber.
Wether it’s down the street of on another continent, I say get out there and see what there is to see. Enjoy the ride!
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