Highland Games Offer Heavy Doses of Competition and Scotchish Pride
By ANDREA FORCUM
Large, kilted men smelling of whiskey and sweat invaded the Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Virginia this past weekend for the 17th Annual Meadow Highland Games and Celtic Festival in a way that would make even William Wallace proud.
The moment guests got out of their cars they were greeted by the sounds of bagpipes and drums. Spicy and fried scents from the various vendors drifted alluringly through the parking lot.
The parade of Scottish Clans announced those who were attending the festival to partake in the games or simply there to partake in the drinking. One usually followed the other.
Throughout the different games one theme remained – big men throw far. The games included the Weight Toss, Scottish Hammer Toss and the Weight Over Bar. Essentially, it was big men throwing heavy stuff as far as they could – and it was great.
The entire day was filled with upbeat music provided by a variety of live bands. If the bands weren’t your thing the edges of the festival were full of alternative entertainment including Scottish Fiddle competitions, Highland Dance competitions, axe throwing and a petting zoo.
Whiskey tasting offered a fun twist on the expected, allowing partakers to try five different types of single-malt scotch whiskey. Scotch Master Hal Clary also educated the tasters on the process of distilling, although by the fifth whiskey the crowds were less than studious.
For guests who wanted to find their own family within the clans, booths were set up providing information and histories for the various families. Venders also provided printing for family crests and flags and windsocks with the crests emblazoned upon them.
If the food smelled amazing, it tasted better. Smoked turkey legs, haggis, and jammers and mash flowed abundant. Two steps could barely be taken before you’d eye something delicious that someone else was eating.
The fusion of American, Irish and Scottish cultures was fascinating. One man wore camouflage long-underwear under his kilt; another supported the Redskins with a jersey atop his kilt and traditional boots. However, the pièce de résistance had to be the guy in a kilt while wearing the Imperial Storm Trooper helmet.
The events ended as every Highlands Games should, with the awards ceremony. Immersed in the mud, beer, kilts and games the festival made you feel like part of the clans regardless of your heritage; but then, it could’ve been the scotch.
Image courtesy of Andrea Forcum/The Bullet