oday's blog comes from our extended ScotlandShop family, Astrid is cousin to Emily here in the office and lives in Ontario, Canada. Astrid visited the Fergus Scottish Festival with her family over the weekend and feeling jealous we couldn't be there we asked her to share her experience.
Scotland...without the airfare
The Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games (this year held on August 12-14th, 2016) is touted as "Scotland...without the airfare." And it was, it really was. Everything you could want to be immersed in Scottish culture for a short time was there - from the British Meat Pies, Haggis, Fried Foods (Fish and Chips to die for), Beer Tent (Highland Pub), Heavy Events, vendors selling Scottish wares and tartans, pipe bands, Celtic bands, tents devoted to each clan, a tea tent, highland dancing, curling...you name it, they had it. And this year, they even had rain and mud making it a soggy mess on Saturday (proper authentic Scottish weather) but when we visited on Sunday, everyone was in good spirits and mulch was thrown down to cushion the mud - the show must go on!
This year the featured clan was Clan Leslie
, who held their Clan Gathering
during the festival. Clan chief, the Honourable Alexander John Leslie doubled up as the Honoured Chieftain for this weekends events.
The marketing campaign
for this years festival was:
Don’t be DAFT! Come on out to see the REAL thing at the Fergus Scottish Festival and for cryin’ out loud, Tartan Up!
So I did, and so did many others. It's refreshing to see so many people embracing the heritage - especially the wee ones in their tiny kilts. I tried to get my son to wear his kilt, but had to settle with just his tam this year.
My day started with a lecturette by Diana Gabaldon
(author of the Outlander series
) who opened up to a rounding applause of loyal fans. She read a chapter from the book she is currently writing, which is not likely to be released for 2 years, so it was cool to have the inside scoop. She then took questions from the audience, with a key one sticking out in my mind - Q: Who was the character that was most changed/impacted by time travel? A: (Spoiler Alert) Roger Wakefield as he seemed to have to adjust to the most changes in his life as a husband, father, time traveller, etc.
I then watched a bit of the women's caber toss event on the main field - from the best seats in the park - the Highland Pub Tent! Settling back with my family, with fish and chips and beer watching a live folk/celtic band and caber, I felt like I had been transfixed in time within the 'old country'.
No trip to a festival with kids is complete without exploring the childrens activities. The McViddies Childrens Centre did not disappoint. It had a curling rink with rocks and brooms for kids to try the sport, a craft tent with a band called 'The Shananigans" performing while allowing the audience to play percussion accompaniment to their opening cover song by the Lumineers, and a medieval acting group (Robin in the Hood) that allowed the children to practice archery and sword-fighting with real swords and try on real armour. It also had bubble soccer (not Scottish but was my son's favourite activity). My son also got to toss a kid-size caber, which he enjoyed very much and wanted to try different sizes and has now even asked his daddy to make him a caber at home (result!).
We watched the highland dancers for a short time, and then heard them announce the winners of the weekend's competition. At last, we heard the thundering drums of the headliner band called "Albannach" and knew our day would be coming to an end soon. So we made our way to the main field - ice cream in hand - and watched the massed bands closing ceremony where a memory of my experience at the Edinburgh Tattoo came back to me. As we followed the bands out of the field and walked back to our car, I lamented on the magic ending...until next year.
Did you attend this years Fergus festival? We'd love to hear your highlights from the event!