Monday, June 8, 2009

The Scottish Games & Highland Festival

On Saturday, my wife, my soon-to-be-eighteen-year-old daughter and I attended the 4th annual Greenville Scottish Games & Highland Festival. We've attended all four, and each year it gets better.

As a Christian Martialist, I felt at home . . . stepping into a warrior culture. I would have liked to see more representation of the Scots' Christian heritage, however.

We watched burly men in kilts toss the caber while others tossed the sheaf. Then came a border collie demonstration that would raise the standard for all you sheepdogs out there. The dog was tirelessly persistent, marvelously skilled, and singlemindedly loyal to the shepherd.

One disappointment was that there had been an unannounced change of schedule, so we missed the massing of the bands. It is always a thrill to see score upon score of pipers marching onto the field, filling the arena and saturating the soul with the stirring skirl of bagpipes.

It's little wonder that the English outlawed the warpipes. As this fat old man has listened to the pipes, he's been ready to pick up a great-sword and follow them into battle.

We managed to catch a concert of traditional Scottish music played by a hammer dulcimer, fiddle and Celtic harp. The harpist played a piece that was used in an episode of Firefly. (When she asked who was familiar with the show, only my daughter & I raised our hands.)

We also watched some of the competitions for the "sword dance". Mostly young girls, although one competitor was a teen-aged guy. Since it's a traditional warrior's dance, it would be good to see more young men take an interest.

I also caught two presentations by the European Medieval Arts of Arms group from Greensboro, NC. As always, their unchoreographed fights and duels were impressive, and the knights were friendly, courteous and eager to answer questions (like mine about how the European staff technique compared to Japanese bo).

Sprinkled among the attendees were many who wore kilts, some bearing swords and/or dirks. A refreshing respite from the hoplophobic spirit of our national culture.

Another interesting feature of the Festival was the appearance of a few black folk in attendance. One young black man wore a kilt. (The first year, there was a black girl in the Highland dance competition.) I see this as a positive, wholesome cultural influence, and I can only hope that it will grow in time.

Now, if only they would put Christ's crown & covenant at the center, add Psalm singing and honor Scripture, they'd have a true Christian Martialist festival.

5 comments:

Stephen Boyd said...

Sounds fun! I've never been to a Highland Games before, but I hope to go to Grandfather Mountain sometime.

That's to bad about the pipes! That's always a highlight for me whenever we attend the quarterly meeting of the local Caledonian Society.

Gravelbelly said...

I know that Grandfather Mountain has the rep in the Southeast for the best & biggest Highland Games, and I've thought I'd like to go some time, as well.

But at the Greenville games, there was a group under a tent demonstrating Scottish folk dances. The leader was a Scot, and he said that Greenville had the most appreciative & responsive of any audiences he knew anywhere, and he went on to say that within a couple of years he expected our games to be bigger than Grandfather Mountain.

And isn't Greenville just a tad closer than Grandfather Mountain? Besides, it would give me a chance to meet you.

Stephen Boyd said...

That's interesting! And I would love to hook up with you sometime.
It's just that we sometimes vacation to Lake Toxaway in western North Carolina, so we're more familiar with that area.

Is there a website for the Greenville games?

Gravelbelly said...

http://www.greenvillegames.org/

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Darn you eastern people and your manly meets. Californians are trapped and cannot indulge. :-P

This sounds glorious, particularly the part about dirk, etc. carrying. They just had one out by where I live, and although I bet it's not nearly as good as yours, I was still sorry I had to miss it.

Spencer