Grey rain fell from the sky as if to replicate the atmosphere of Scotland. On September 2nd-3rd people of Scottish heritage, and people without, gathered on the rolling green hills of Great Meadow, Virginia. Forty-two clans and societies were represented, ranging from the Fraser clan to the Scottish American Women’s Society.
If it is difficult to picture this strange affair, think about the opening of the movie Brave, where bagpipes are humming, men in kilts,many games to test strength, and manhood, being a great value of the Scots. Pop culture also being represented, with the newly acclaimed Scottish novel, Outlander, which may be considered a little fifty shades of plaid, but a fantastic storyline nonetheless.
There was something for everyone. For dancers, there was traditional highland dancing. One could watch the rhythmic steps of a time past, by men and women competing to be the best. The Scottish games involved Caber tossing, which is flipping a giant log, and heavy weight, which is throwing a 56 pound weight as far as one can. Music also being represented, fiddling and piping competitions spread across the fields, as well as singers who were sharing their art and heritage. Vendors sold shortbread, highland tea, and homemade honey. The best part, for all the dog lovers, was that dogs were welcome! Puppies covered in mud and prancing with happy faces in the open air.
Hannah Hanes, Woodgrove Senior, part of Clan Scott and Clan Rose says, “The Scottish festival reminds me of being a kid and running around this special event that just takes you out of your own world and throws you quite abruptly into another.”
Amberleigh Malone, part of Clan Munro and Clan Bell, who is on the Board of Directors says, “My favorite part of the games is being able to spend time with all the people I care about that work the games.”
For many families this festival represents heritage, but there is strong story of why people go to such lengths to produce this event. The Scots have a strong, but troubled history. In the years 1688-1746, a scottish rebellion called the Jacobite rising emerged in Scotland. The goal was to restore James VII to the throne and end British tyranny in Scotland. This rebellion was led by James’ son, Charles Stuart, also known as, Bonnie Prince Charlie. Their cause was noble, but in vain. The British had more resources, and the Scots had poor leadership. Despite all of this, the Scots fought with passion and heart.
For it was Sir Walter Scott who said, “Where is the coward that would not dare to fight for a land such as Scotland?”
Scots have so much pride in their country to the point that it is infectious. On the Moors of Culloden in 1746, many Scots died in a blood bath. This marked the end of Scottish culture; no more kilts, no more Gaelic, and no more tradition. Many Scots came to America whether imprisoned or of their own volition. Even in a country far from where they originated, the fear of the British was still embedded, and America was at the will of their colonial rulers. The Scots moved farther, running from the Brits into the Appalachian Mountains. They saw a security and beauty in a place found uninhabitable by many others. It reminded them of the beloved home that they had left. Now many generations later, Scottish descendents gathe to uphold a culture that many have tried to suppress throughout history.
Hanes ends saying, “I think Scottish people are just like any others, they’ve got good and bad. We all have our own cultures, theirs happens to have the confusing additions of telephone pole throwing competitions and food that contains unidentifiable meat.”