Out for a fling at the 41st Scottish Festival
By ELICIA MAILHIOT
Correspondent | August 25,2013
Photo by Elicia Mailhiot
Glenfiddich, a Highland pony, and his owner, Deb Coburn of New Hampshire, join in the 41st annual Scottish Festival and Celtic Fair in Quechee.
QUECHEE — “Give me but one hour of Scotland. Let me see it ere I die,” Scottish poet William Edmondstoune Aytoun said.
Saturday, Scotland found its home nestled in the Green Mountain State — the Quechee Polo Field, to be exact — for the 41st annual Scottish Festival and Celtic Fair.
The event brings hundreds of visitors to the area each year and is sponsored by the St. Andrew’s Society of Vermont. Proceeds from the festival benefit the society’s scholarship fund, which supports students interested in furthering their education in Scottish topics including heritage, dance, and music.
The festival attracts people of all ages with its activities. Fan favorites include the ladies’ rolling pin toss and “highland athletics” like the sheaf toss and putting the stone.
Another highlight of the day was the Vermont Sheepdog Championship Trials. Nearly 40 dogs and handlers were present to demonstrate the communication and agility required to perform. The trials continue today at Spring Valley Farm in Strafford.
Border collies weren’t the only animals present. New Hampshire resident Deb Coburn brought her 10-year-old Highland pony, Glenfiddich. The Highland pony is a native Scottish horse.
More than 50 clans and societies attended the festival, welcoming fellow clansmen.
How do you know if you’re of Scottish descent? Maps in front of the tents helped onlookers discover their roots.
But, as Norman MacInnes knows, some things change. Many clansmen listed related names as pronunciations and spellings have changed over the years. You might be a member of the Clan MacInnes if your last name is MacInnis, McGinnis, McKynes, or McAinsh.
Sounds of bagpipes filled the air from competitors in both the solo competition and the pipe band competition. Music acts including Ru-Ra, Frost and Fire, and Fifth Business took the stage dressed in traditional Scottish kilts.
Visitors were also introduced to the American Celtic-rock band Prydein, composed of Aron Garceau and bagpiper Iain Macharg. The latter has traveled to Scotland twice to compete in the Pipe Band World Championships.
The two formed the band after meeting at the University of Vermont, according to Garceau. Since then, the band has produced many albums and makes the rounds of various festivals and concerts throughout New England.
Prydein has a soft spot for this Scottish Festival, though.
“We’ve been coming here for about 17 years, I think,” Garceau said.
Many things make the festival both appealing and unique, according to emcee Donald Murray of the St. Andrew’s Society. For one, it appeals to “a wide variety of interests.” Murray said it is essential for festival-goers to explore “things that are happening in all corners.”
This includes many craft vendors, including Scotland by the Yard, a Celtic shop located in Quechee, and Judith Sullivan, a kilt maker from Keene, N.H.
Sullivan works as a teacher, but has been making kilts for more than 15 years. Her daughter, Katie Bradeen, owns the Sheep and Pickle Farm in Brookfield and brought yarn from her sheep to the festival, proving that when it comes to Scotland, it’s all about the clan.