26th Scottish Festival and Highland Games in Itasca
Thursday, May 17, 2012
If watching grown men in kilts throw telephone poles across a field is your idea of a good time, don't miss the 26th Annual Scottish Festival & Highland Games in Itasca this June.
And if you're more interested in immersing yourself in that country's culture, food, music and other heavy athletic traditions, the fest has you covered on that, too.
The two-day festival features everything from a kids' area where pint-sized athletes can throw their own version of a caber to sheep herding to soccer and rugby tournaments. But when it comes to the best part of the festival, nothing beats seeing the strongmen strut their stuff.
"The most popular is the heavy athletics," says Gus Noble, president of the Chicago Scots. The athletes compete in traditional Scottish contests including the Caber Toss (flipping 20-foot, 140-pound tree trunks), the 22-pound Hammer Throw and the Clachnert (throwing a 16-pound river stone). Children visiting the kids' area can try out safe versions of the events, such as tossing a plastic caber.
Noble says families also will enjoy the music, dance competitions and performances that run throughout both days.
"We have some Celtic rock, which is for some of our younger, more energetic visitors," Noble says. "We also have traditional bagpipes and drums."
The closing ceremonies, which feature more than 1,000 bagpipers and drums, are also a don't-miss, according to Noble.
"It's an awesome sight," Noble says. "They march onto the field playing in unison and at the height of the parade you hear off in the distance a lone bagpiper playing 'Amazing Grace' and then the drums and bagpipers join it. It reminds you life is a wonderful thing."