Explore History at the Scottish Festival

By Jaycen Eggleston

Cultural festivals provide a glimpse into the traditions and experiences of groups of people and how they have evolved over thousands of years, and Utah hosts a wide variety of them. June 9 marks the first day of the Scottish Festival and Highland Games — a celebration of Scottish history, traditional music, dance, athletics and a sense of community.

The 43rd annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games welcomes guests of all ages to explore the intricacies of Highland dance and the technique behind traditional games, like the Braemar Stone and the Caber Toss — the throwing of a heavy stone or a huge tapered pole, respectively — at the Utah State Fair Park.

The festival will start with a modern take on traditional Scottish music as Men of Worth, Molly’s Revenge and the Wicked Tinkers harmonize with bagpipes, drums and other instruments. Saturday, June 10, will introduce guests to folk dance. Those interested will witness the Highland Fling and Sword Dance, Seann Truibhas, the Highland Reel and many other traditional dances with ties to modern ballet.

The Scottish Highland Games will also begin June 10 where guests can observe professional and amateur events. Men and women will compete in seven traditional games including the Sheaf and the Weight over Bar — using a pitchfork to throw a burlap bag of straw over a bar or a 56 pound weight over a bar. Participating men will be competing for invitations to the International Highland Games Federation’s Stones of Strength American Championships.

Other events scheduled for Saturday are the massed bands and Tattoo. All of the bagpipe bands will come together to play Scotland the Brave and other songs. The Tattoo is a signal played by group of drummers and trumpeters that was traditionally to tell sailors or soldiers to go to their quarters, and it will mark the end of the festivities for the day.

Sunday, June 11, will be the last day of the Scottish Festival and Highland Games. Kirkin O’ the Tartan — a blessing of the clans — will be one of the main events of the day. The men’s and women’s athletic events and several concerts will continue throughout the day, and then the Closing Ceremonies will end the festival for the year.

Tickets to the festival allow admission to all three days, giving guests a chance to explore vendors’ stalls selling food, jewelry and kilts. The Clan booths will explain the history of each clan, display photos of events the Clan held and allow for guests to meet Clan members or participate in any of the ongoing activities for children. Regular admissions pricing is $15, $10 for students (12 years old to 18 years old) and seniors (65 years old and over). Utah Scottish Association members, active military persons with a current Geneva Conventions ID and children under 11 will get in free. The Utah State Fair Park charges a parking fee, but it is accessible by bus and TRAX’s Green Line.

Go explore Scottish culture, learn about the rich history of the nation and its traditions and have fun with friends and family at a festival celebrating history, community and art.

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