Friday, August 24, 2007

Manly Men Doing Manly Things

"Laddie, do you know what a true Scotsman wears under his kilt?" -Random jolly man

"Here. This $10 is yours if you don't tell me. Again. Please." -Me

Ahh, the Scottish Festival, home of the Highland Games. My wife identifies herself as being of Scottish descent, and loves knowing all about her genealogy, her clan and their history. Being as she tolerates my random hobbies and interests, I feel compelled to accompany her each year to our local festival. The workers manning the festival are interesting characters, consisting mainly of Renaissance festival carnies eking out a living while awaiting Haunted House season to open next month. Then they are off to their retail jobs at the Mole Hole and ski lift operations until next year.

Here you can find all things Celtic, (yes, those Irish aren't satisfied on having their own freaking day, they too must set up booths to peddle their green wares.) As I peruse the endless supply of tartans and broadswords, I always have Mike Meyers as his Scottish SNL character running in my mind, declaring: "If it's not Scottish, it's Craaaaap!". This causes me to chuckle to myself as I wander, making the passerby think I might be a little touched.

Beyond the goods, bagpipers and godawful food lies the fields of battle: The Highland Games. Here is where you can find the manliest of men( and some women), participating in competitions who origins have been lost in the mists of time. Or not, as told by assorted miked MC's.

There are 3 games I always enjoy: The Sheaf toss, where they try to toss a 20lb hay bag over ever increasing heights, the Weight for Height which seems to consist of heavy drinking of single malt scotch in the hot sun, then tossing a 60lb weight over your head, and trying not to bean yourself, and then the Caber Toss, where huge men toss telephone poles down rage. This is hands down my favorite.

There are apparently 3 basic sizes of cabers: wee, not so wee, and Frickin' Huge! (More chuckling to myself, causing the woman in the tie die kilt and fringed doeskin boots to move over a bit and eye me sideways. Oh yeah, I'm the freak here, lady. . .)

One of the four bag piping sections in residence takes the field and plays the haunting traditional Scottish hymn: "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" as the contestants fill in their lengthy insurance waivers covering hernias, heatstroke and crushed skulls. Then, let the games begin!

The goal is to toss these suckers end over end down field, with their final position being as close to 12 o'clock as possible. The biggest caber in the 3rd round is 22 ft long and 145 lbs. I missed a photo of it, but at the end of this 40 yard field where these cabers are being tossed is a pair of mothers sitting cross legged on the ground with their strollers next to them, chatting away in the partial shade, not paying attention in the slightest. Yeah. . .good plan. . .

The worst injuries on this day are broken fingers and a rolled ankle. But fear not! There is another festival only a month later in our fair state for those who can't get enough.

I have to say, there is a really wide latitude for consideration of what consists of Celtic entertainment. When I first started going to these 6 years ago, there was an event: "Dogs of the British Isles" As promised, there were English hounds, Irish Wolfhounds on hand, and assorted other dogs lumped in, but there was at least a theme going. This year, the festival had a dog agility course and Flyball tournament as well, which is stretching it, to say the least. Also seen, a junior martial arts demonstration and an artillery battery firing at the top of each hour, DRESSED IN CONFEDERATE CIVIL WAR UNIFORMS! I wish I could say I was embellishing, but no...*Sigh*

I'm just sayin' that if I show up at the Dog Agility Championships with a bagpipe and start wailing away, I will not be welcome. . .



Heather said...

This looks like so much fun! I'd love to attend Scottish Festival... if such things ever occurred in my neck of the woods.

Speedcat Hollydale said...

You really put some work into this post! Fantastic, I say :-)


Certifiable (Ann) said...

I do believe I was Scottish in my last life.LOL! I have such a fascination for the place and the culture. I too would love to attend the festival...sounds like lots of fun!

Joanne said...

Haha, what a fun post...the quote in the beginning cracked me up!

Anonymous said...

Hernias, heatstroke, and crushed skulls AND I have to listen to bagpipes? Sorry, I'm out. But I think it's awesome you two are in.

Kali said...

You seem like a funny, nutty one. Sure, I'll be your friend! :) I'll look forward to tuning in!

Agnes Mildew said...

I think you should thank your lucky stars that your wife doesn't have English ancestry.

If you live anywhere near a tree and a swathe of grass here, you are subjected to Morris Dancing at the first sign of a tree in leaf.

Can you ever get your head around watching grown men wearing bells around their ankles, tight white trousers, and hitting each other over the head with hankies and blown up sheep stomachs? What's that all about, eh?