Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Visit History: RI Scottish Highland Festival

Kilts. Bagpipes. Tartan. Whisky. Throwing tree logs. Sean Connery. Loch Ness Monster. "They can take our lives. But they'll never take OUR FREEEEDOMMMMM." Although the 17th Annual Rhode Island Scottish Highland Festival had a lot of this kitsch, the all-day event was packed with cultural activities steeped in Scottish history.

First off, you get a thistle stamp. Because, obviously.

Highland Games: The origin of the games predates recorded history. What else were you supposed to do in the Highlands 1,000 years ago besides hurl heavy shit around? Nothin'. So, there were "games" at this festival, although they were more of a strongman competition. The muscly dude-bros had a very gladiatorial persona about them. They walked around with their chests puffed out like they were hot shit. Maybe they were.

Albannach: Among the various live music performances, Albannach was the most reknowned and only group that didn't sound like a 3rd class Titanic party. The quintet hales from Scotland and has a touring schedule that makes Beyonce's look like a vacation. With four energetic drummers and an innovative bagpiper, these guys (and lady) were covered in tats and had beautiful ballgowny-type kilts. Fun to look at. Fun to listen to.

Sheepherding demonstration: I mean, of course I checked this out. All while snacking on haggis and a native Glascow fizzy drink called Irn-Bru (pronounced iron-brew). Curb your curiosity, and don't pick this one up. It's just a bad soda flavor.

Traditional Scottish food: The food vendor was kind of a bust. Haling from New Jersey, Cameron's Scottish Foods assured me via their bumper sticker that "you can bust my chops, but you can't beat my meat...pies." I've been to Scotland, where I dined on haggis more than once. But this wasn't the traditional Scottish sheep liver/lung/heart concoction. It was just beef liver. Bland, dry, ole' beef liver. They need to put a little heart into their food. get it? GET IT?

Scottish country dancers: I've never seen a more miserable group of people. They danced like it was a chore.

Other happenings I did not see because a) food wasn't involved, b) adorable people and/or animals weren't involved, or c) it was just too hot outside and the air conditioner was calling my name ok?

Celtic harp workshop
Kilt-making demonstration
Celtic storytellers
Highland dance competition: not to be confused with the grumpycat country dancers.

If any of these things sound up your alley, I urge you to check out your local Scottish festival. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up. Fine holiday fun.

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