June 10-11 was a good weekend to be a Scotsman in Utah at the 37th Annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games.
Festival goers milled around the fairgrounds, entering vendors’ booths to purchase flags, clothing, even swords and knives made in the traditional Highland fashion. Adjacent to the vendors’ booths were booths of the various Scottish Clans represented at the festival. More than 35 Clans attended the festival, each one with its own crest, history and tartan –a specific weave of plaid unique to that clan.
Each of these clans showed their pride in the traditional opening ceremonies. Families gathered under their clan banner and lined up to be announced. Names of the clans included Graham, Dunn, Cambell, MacRae, Stewart, MacNicol, Elliot and Maxwell.
The opening ceremonies kicked off with three volunteers from the Scottish American Military Society carrying the American flag, Scottish Flag and Utah flag to the front of the masses. Then a collaborative piping band began to play a traditional Scottish melody and marched onto the field, followed closely by the family clans.
One of the piping bands participating was the Wasatch & District Pipe Band. Based out of Bountiful Utah, the band consists of 22 bagpipe players, seven snare drummers, four tenor drummers and two bass drummers. Brandon Orr, a Utah State student from Logan, has been with the band since 2001. “A lot of the songs were written about real life experiences,” Orr said.
When it comes to the bagpipes, mastering the instrument takes times and practice. “Bagpipes are notorious for going out of tune,” Adam Hood, a Woods Cross High School teacher said. The piper must constantly twist and slide three poles connected to the bag in order to tune them. Actually playing the instrument, however, takes finesse and a tolerance for loudness. “There’s no volume control,” Orr said. “They’re just loud.”
The Scottish Festival offered many patrons the opportunity to learn more about their history and heritage or the chance to learn about a culture different than their own. Enjoying the piping bands, the strongman competitions and just the Scottish environment, this festival goer did not go home disappointed.