As we walked through the parking lot all we could hear, was the sound of gravel under our feet, until we reached Rister Stadium. By the time we got this close to Tam O’Shanter Park we could hear cheers and grunts and a faint bagpipe in the back. We rearranged our gear in our arms, wiped the sweat off our brows and thought about getting a cart for our camera gear for future events, while we watched kilt-wearing sportsman throw things for the fun of the game. It was between 90-95 degrees for the entire weekend, but that didn’t stop the Highland games, Scottish dancers, musicians, vendors and the clans from coming together for Highlander Fest 2011!
We took a stroll along the alley of The Clans. There was a booth were you could look up your name to see what your tartan is. Last year Karen found out that many of her ancestors are Scottish. This year, Summer found out that not only her Norwegian ancestors have a tartan, but there is an Irish tartan, 3 tartans for her mother’s side of the family and both she and Karen could wear the Washington State Tartan if they wanted to.
Great vendors filled the park with kilts and other garb, books and anything Scottish you could think about. Did we mention the food? The air was thick with the smell of meat pies & Scottish beef sandwiches…but in the near 100 degree weather all we could think about was the shaved ice!
The games were great! We were so surprised how many people came to throw hammers & cabers. While we were there we learned about Hurling. Hurling is a Scottish sport that consists of a ball the size of a baseball, but softer, a flat club that is less than 2 feet long and players that are in constant motion! We connected with some of the members of the Columbia Red Branch Hurling. You can Connect with Columbia Red Branch Hurling on Facebook or at their website at http://columbiaredbranch.com.
In the corner of the park on a small stage you might have seen the flutter of feet. Girls and Boys of all ages were there to show off what they must have practiced for years. We had the opportunity to see the hard shoe dancers. They did a couple jigs and a few round dances in unison. It was amazing to see how fast their feet could move as they held their arms straight at their sides. It was a ‘bonnie’ show and the audience was buzzing with appreciation.
On Sunday morning we slept through our alarms which only meant that the Kirkin’ O’ the Tartan service in the field at Tam O’Shanter Park was going to be missed. We found reprieve at The Electric Bean over our coffees and watched footage in honor of Patriot’s Day before we found our way to Kelso First Presbyterian Church on Academy Street. What a culture lesson was to be had. Kelso First Presbyterian Church was the first church in Kelso when it was built in the 1800’s. With their strong roots, they took it upon themselves to give us quite a history lesson. Tartans were presented by the congregation and songs were sung to bag pipes and the mandolin. It was a fantastic service led by Rev. Hanna Peterson.
The sound of Scottish music moves many of us. We were lucky to have heard Tempest last year. Tempest is a Celtic rock band that fuses Irish reels, Scottish ballads, Norwegian and other world music elements. This year they brought us to our feet yet again and we enjoyed the response they got from the audience that was present as well as those that commented on the raw clips we posted on Facebook.
Another band we thoroughly enjoyed was Wicked Tinkers. Bagpipes, Drums and Didgeridoo came together in the hands of the band members as they explored our past right in front of our eyes. This dynamic group brought young and old to life as they played songs that took us back to our childhoods and enlightened passions that lay dormant most of the year. Audience members were not afraid to tell us how much they enjoyed their music as they left with smiles on their faces.
We didn’t mind the sweat pouring from our brows because we were so inspired by all the Scottish beauty in front of us. Keep watching Connect the Dots on KLTV channel 11 on Wednesday nights at 6:30 for our rendition of Highlander Fest 2011. Make sure to check Exclaim Media, LLC’s Facebook Fan Page for raw clips of community events to see what you might have missed.
Until we write again…”a nod’s as guid as a wink tae a blind horse!” (Explain yourself properly, and make your meaning clear!)