This past weekend my non-Scottish husband and I (his equally non-Scottish wife) trundled down to our local Scottish Fest. We had a blast!
While I love reading Scottish historical romances, my husband doesn’t. However, I’d prepped him with two seasons of Outlander. I had three goals for the day: to watch the Highland games, to absorb some Scottish culture, and to take the plunge and try some haggis–all of this, mind you, because I do have a couple of Scottish characters in the series I’m working on.
So, without further ado, here’s a report of my day.
Over 60 clans, from Armstrong to Young, had booths showcasing their tartans and history.
Eighteen different pipe bands from the region competed for piping and drumming awards.
There was even a friendly harp vendor. Here’s my husband (who wishes to remain incognito) getting his free mini-lesson. He did very well, but then, he played guitar in a band in his younger days so he’s used to stringed instruments.
And a lesson in training sheep-dogs.
That’s not a UFO in this picture–that’s the “sheaf” from the sheaf toss, sailing up to go over the horizontal bar.
And here is one of the female competitors in the stone put. (These kilts took me back to my Catholic high school days–I much prefer looking at them on the guys.)
The women did quite well in the competitions. In fact, in the caber toss, more female tossers managed to achieve the end-over-end throw.
Darn, I didn’t get a picture of the caber falling, but this was a successful toss.
We sampled some very good Scotch whisky, Tamdhu, while watching some Highland country dancers, and finally found our way to the booth that sold haggis.
In case you didn’t click the link above, haggis is
A savoury pudding containing sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices and salt, traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach.
So appetizing, no?
No. It reminded me of corned beef hash, a little gummier, and with the strong, metallic taste of organ meats. A Scottish-born friend we ran into said it tastes much better if you pour a shot of whisky over it.
To cleanse our palates we went to the Welsh Baker’s Celtic Tea Room. My husband had Welsh cakes with lemon curd.
I had shortbread and clotted cream. Yum!
And did I mention the men in kilts? They were everywhere, all ages, shapes and degrees of buffness. Amazingly, my husband refrained from making any comments about men in skirts.
I imagine that, like many of our American celebrations of ethnic heritage, the Scottish festival partiers are celebrating and eating the way their immigrant ancestors did a hundred or two hundred years ago. The culture of modern-day Scotland is, well, modern. Like ours.
But for my research purposes, that’s okay, because I’m writing historical fiction!
So am I wrong? Do the Scots dress in kilts, eat haggis, and throw stones and cabers for sport? Or do they only do that during tourist season? One day I’ll make it to Scotland myself and find out, but until then, I’d love to hear your thoughts!