Something in Thursday's newspaper caught my eye. It was an article about the 52nd annual Scottish Games and Gathering of the Clans, happening this weekend in Salado (about 12 miles from where we live). My mother's father was Scottish; he was a McIlwrath (one of many spelling variations i.e. McIlwraith, MacIlwraith, etc.). His parents were both immigrants to America from Scotland, making me 1/4 Scottish.
This morning I headed south to take in the festival, not knowing what to expect. I arrived around 9:45 a.m., and stayed until 2:30 p.m., fully enjoying myself all day long. The weather was good - neither cold nor hot. It was a bit overcast most of the day, but by afternoon most of the clouds burned off.
The highlight of the day, for me, was the opening parade and ceremonies. I was surprised at how many bagpipers there were in Texas! And how many clans were represented. At one of the booths I learned that the McIlwraths were probably from the MacDonald clan (or maybe the Fraser clan). I think I need to do a little more research on that.
One section of the grounds was dedicated to bagpipe and drum competitions. In that area there were about seven or eight stations, where pipers were performing. continuously, before judges. So, for those listening, it was a real cacophony. There were pipers and drummers of all ages (and all ethnicities!).
On a stage in another part of the grounds were the Highland dancers, also competing for high scores, where I enjoyed watching some of the young girls competing for points and awards.
In a large open field, a series of Highland games were taking place . . . stone throwing, hammer throwing, sheaf tossing, weight for height, and caber tossing. I spent most of my time there. I especially wanted to see the caber tossing, but I had to leave for home before that event began. Maybe next year. There is also an evening event that I might go to next year, known as the Tattoo (an outdoor military pageant).
|Getting ready for the Stone Throw|
|The Sheaf Toss - A sheaf of hay, weighing 26 lbs., is tossed, using a pitch fork, over a bar, which is raised as the game proceeds. Here the bar is being raised.|
|The sheaf of hay is stabbed with the fork. Usually they put the fork in several times, trying for the best position in the sheaf, and making the holes loose so the hay will easily fly off of the fork.|
|Oops! The fork isn't supposed to fly - only the sheaf!|
|These were the two finalists for the sheaf toss. The one on the right was the winner, tossing it over the bar at 19'|
|This is the Weight for Distance throw. Later in the day was the Weight for Height throw.|