I love all things Scottish (except maybe the shorter life span). I love bagpipe music. I love Scottish TV. I even love haggis — a mixture of sheep’s liver, lungs, and heart, with barley and other spices. It’s served in the sheep’s stomach over there, but USDA rules prevent that from happening over here. I even love that people look at me funny and go “EWWW!” when I tell them what haggis is.
I also suspect that my mom’s family may have some Scottish blood in its history, but I’ve been too busy to check it out. Plus with her maiden name, it’s either Scottish or French, and other than the food and wine, I’m just not as wild about the French.
So I was thrilled to be invited to the Indiana Scottish Highland Games and Festival in Indianapolis. It was held on Saturday, October 13 in German Park, which is in the 8600 block of South Meridian in Indianapolis, so it’s just a short way from Greenwood.
I was especially thrilled because one of my favorite Celtic Rock bands, Seven Nations, was going to play that day (and night).
It’s been years since I’ve been to a Scottish festival, but everything was just the way I remember it. Bagpipe bands playing and drumming, kilts twirling everywhere, and more tartan than you can shake a Claymore at. I was a bit rusty on my tartans, and often get more than a few of them confused. If you don’t pay special attention, you may end up confusing a couple of them rather easily.
If we do have Scottish blood in my family, then my mother’s family is a sept (or division) of the Clan Campbell. Unfortunately, no one from the Clan was there to talk to, so I didn’t worry too much about it.
Although this was only the third festival, these people went all out. You wouldn’t know it was so new, because it looks like they had all the bugs worked out. Not only was it a gorgeous October day — a few clouds, blue skies that move poets to grab a pen, and plenty of color in the trees — but there was everything that represented the best of Scotland to be found.
- A Highland steer, said to be the only beef the Queen will eat.
- A high tea, complete with scones and jelly (I didn’t know you put jelly on scones; I especially liked the lemon curd).
- A booth of Scottish food, which, given the fact that everything is fried, I was not allowed to try.
- booths and vendors of Scottish tartans, clothing, swords, and goods. I had my eye on a Ultilikilt, but my family would have none of it. (I’ll have to go when they’re not around).
- Mary, Queen of Scots, and her royal court.
- Many different clans and their tents and educational displays.
We also had a chance to watch some of the Highland Games, including the 56 lb. weight toss, which looked rather dangerous when you consider that competitors were flinging a 56 pound ball of iron straight up into the air and hoping they got enough of an arch on it that it would fall down behind them. They also had to throw it up high enough that they could quickly step out of its path in case they didn’t get the arch right.
Seven Nations is a Celtic Rock band, out of Orlando, whose name is based on the seven original Celtic nations — Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, Galecia, Isle of Man, and Brittany. They’ve been around since 1993, playing full-time at Scottish, Irish, and Celtic festivals around the country, pubs and clubs, and even the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
They have also done a Hogmeanay (New Year’s) performance on Scotland’s Royal Mile for 40,000 people, played at the New York City Marathon, played with several American orchestras, including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Jacksonville Symphony, and the South Carolina Philharmonic. They even performed an entire show with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra at the Dublin Irish Festival (Ohio, not Ireland).
These guys are truly one of my favorite bands, and even if you had to pay twice the amount of the ticket to see them, it would have been totally worth it. They ended up playing three different times throughout the day, but I was prepared to stay there until the end of the day to see them play.
I’m always a sucker for a good Scottish festival, and I have to say that this was one of my favorites. From the moment we walked through a small opening in the trees and across the bridge, we were transported into another world. I got to spend the day in Scotland, a place I would truly love to visit one day, and see and experience all the things I love about that culture and country. My only disappointment was that this was a one-day festival, because I would have been back the second day if they had been there.
Ah well, there’s always next year, and I’ll be there, hopefully in my new Utilikilt or Campbell Clan tartan.
Photo credit: Erik Deckers