Tossing Logs, Wearing Kilts, and of course, Drinking.

As we know, Scotland has spread its influence on the world far and wide, mostly due to Scots immigrating to wherever they could find good work. And that’s why there are people in countries all over the world who feel the call home for Scotland. And why every year here in Utah, they have multiple Scottish festivals.

I’d been to the Scottish festival several times before moving to Scotland, but a few weekends ago I went for the first time since I’ve come home. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it…maybe it would be pathetic in comparison with the real Scotland.

My low expectations were pleasantly thwarted.

The festival opened with a tattoo, with the combination of several pipe bands in Utah (there are more of them than I wanted to keep track of) and a presentation of the clans.

Then there is a big concert of a few Celtic music bands, including one of my favorites, Wicked Tinkers. Their slogan is “Raging Pipes and Drums,” but they also have a variety of didgeridoos, which if I may insert my opinion, sets them high above your average pipes and drums.

The next morning of the festival is filled with highland games, and throughout the day there is a piping competition, groups of highland dancers performing, more concerts from Celtic artists, and dozens of booths selling wares.

I watched a lot of the highland games this year, and was pretty thrilled about the performance of the female athletes.

I mean, check that technique out. Actually, some of these women were tossing sheaths and cabers just as high or far as the men. Plus they had way more entertaining outfits.

For food, there were plenty of meat pies, fish and chips, and even some haggis. But the funny thing is, Utah has, well, different laws about alcohol, and the venue of the Scottish Festival actually forbids alcohol on site. I saw some complaints about this, that the Scottish Festival was clearly not in the true spirit of Edinburgh (or anywhere else in Scotland for that matter). But there is an amazing root beer and cream soda vendor that comes every year…and you can buy your drink in these crazy amazing bottles… so that’s worth it, right?

All these things aside, my favorite part of being at the Scottish festival was feeling that stirring in my blood, that exhilarating feeling I felt every day in Scotland, that I was among my people. Even more so this time, because these were the people who, like me, had ancestors unfortunately leave Scotland and now have to deal with the fact that they are American and not actually Scottish. Those of us who hear the call of the pipes and the cry of “freedom” in our veins. These are my real people.


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