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Front Page » August 17, 2004 » Local News » Scottish Festival
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Scottish Festival

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Staff Writer

Clans march in the Emery County Fair Parade on Aug. 7.

During the Emery County Fair, the second annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games was presented. With booths, entertainment and athletic competitions, the festival was an all day event. The entire day was a celebration of the Celtic roots and traditions that helped make this country great.

Booths were set up by many clans and also the St. Andrews Society, for information on family histories. A lone bagpipe was played in the background as Emery County citizens explored the world of the Celts.

Many Scottish athletes, dressed in the required kilt, competed at the ball fields in the Highland Games. These games have evolved through the history of the Scots. Many legends exist concerning the origin of each game, and it is with this in their minds that the athletes compete.

These modern day warriors are carrying on the traditions of the ancient warriors by performing feats of strength, skill and power. In ancient times, in the beginning of the games, the outcome of the contests determined the leaders of the clans. Not only do the games require great strength, but timing, coordination and balance. Each athlete practices to hone their individual technique. Every one of the seven traditional events test each competitor in all facets of physical endurance.

Modern day competitions are divided into weight and age classes. There are divisions for female competitors also. While the weights the women throw may be less, the competition requirements are the same as for the men.

In the Braemar Stone competition, a 22 pound Braemar Stone is thrown from a stationary position. This game evolved from the ancient chieftain testing the arms of visiting warriors.

During the Open Stone competition, using only one hand and being allowed a 7 foot, 6 inch approach, the contestants throw for distance. This game has its roots in the warriors being assigned to lookout position in the castles and hurling stones down on the intruders.

Weight for distance consists of a ball and chain, with a weight ranging from 28-56 pounds, being thrown for distance. Each athlete is given three attempts for the best distance.

In the hammer throw, with origins from men working in granite quarries, contestants throw a 16 or 22 pound weight attached to a flexible shaft. In the three attempts allowed, the longest distance is recorded.

The sheaf toss has its roots on the farms of Scotland. A burlap bag is filled with 20 pounds weight (hay) and the bag is tossed over a bar at varying heights. Competitors are allowed three attempts at each height and the winning athlete is the one who throws the sheaf over the greatest height. To throw the bag, the contestant spears the bag with a pitchfork and spins around while hurling the bag over the crossbar.

Another contest over the crossbar at different heights is the weight over bar competition. In ancient times, warriors would practice throwing grappling hooks over castle walls to gain entry. This game has evolved through time to the present day competition of a metal weight weighing up to 56 pounds. The competitors are allowed three throws at each height and the winner is the one who can clear the highest mark.

The caber toss dates from the 16th century where it is thought to have been a military tactic to bridge rivers or barriers. The athlete who can toss the caber, make a complete end over end revolution and land as close to the 12 o'clock position as possible. Competitors are scored according to the position of the caber on landing. The athletes are allowed three attempts in this competition.

Along with the booths and athletic competitions, the visitors had a chance to enjoy authentic Scottish fare in the way of haggis, sausage rolls in pastry, lamb, beef and chicken pot pies, Scottish eggs, Meets-N-Patties (turnips and potatoes in gravy), shortbread, cream Crowdie (heavy cream, raspberries, toasted oats and honey), Parkin Ginger Bread, Caroway seed cake (fennel), Dundee cake (special occasion cake), fruit tart cookie (layered fruit), and oat cakes.

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