Spring is upon us and the season is already underway...for Scottish Highland Games, that is. Many American and Canadian citizens can trace their roots back to Scotland. Some of these people celebrate these relationships by organizing, volunteering at, and attending Highland games. Doing so helped me come up with the idea for several books. To be surrounded by people dressed in Highland attire, ancient plaids, and weaponry gave me fodder for my historical paranormal, DRAGONS CURSE, and for several other books in the works.
When I first met the man I was destined to marry, his grandfather and father had already researched their Scottish ancestry. Both a grandfather and grandmother hailed from Scottish clans, in this case Gunn and MacBean. We have attended the New Hampshire Highland Games from the time they started back in 1975. In the early 1980s, my husband began his long stint volunteering. I stayed home with the boys until the youngest showed an interest in his Scottish lineage, then also volunteered. Marching bands, odd looking food, and colorful kilts amid the spectacular fall foliage of the New Hampshire’s White Mountains made for memorable days.
The New Hampshire games has turned into an annual three day event, now visited by over 40,000 people! We volunteer as a family and, even though my husband and I moved to the south, we still travel to New England to offer our service under the information tent. Our sons join us to help us sell official programs, hand out maps and schedules of events, and sell raffle tickets, the proceeds of which fund scholarships for area students interested in pursuing the Scottish arts such as dancing, bagpipes, harp, and more.
This annual celebration has turned into a major undertaking and the Board of Directors and office staff work tirelessly to coordinate the many entertainment venues, clan representatives, venders of food and goods, vocal groups, and hundreds of volunteers in order to bring the sights, sounds, and flavors of Scotland to New England.
Volunteering every hour of the three days is too much to ask of anyone, since there is so much to do and see, so my husband and I gather several hardy individuals to share the load. This affords everyone with time to either go watch the sheep dog trials, taste the shortbread, scones, bridies and meat pies, shop the venders, or listen to rock bands. No one wants to miss the athletes as they toss the caber, a tree length wooden pole.
Many states, communities, and organizations host their own Highland games and these games welcome everyone…a Scottish lineage or kilt are not required! If you enjoy harps, bagpipes, Highland dance, wonderful food and a sea of brightly colored wool (and is there anything more sexy than a man in a kilt?) please visit a Highland games or Scottish festival soon.
Here are a few links to scheduled games that will help you on your way:
May 20-22 Smokey Mountain Highland Games
June 10-11 Kansas City Scottish Highland Games
June 25-26 San Diego Scottish Highland Games
July 7-10 The Grandfather Mountain Games in NC
July 30-31 Pacific Northwest Scottish Highland Games in WA
August 5-7 Celtic Roots Festival in Ontario
August 20 The Maine Highland Games in ME
August 28 The Vermont Highland Games in VT
Sept. 16-18 The New Hampshire Highland Games in NH
October 14-16 Stone Mountain Highland Games
These are only a few of the 2011 festivals available in the United States and Canada. For a complete list, visit the website of The Association of Scottish Games & Festivals
For a little more on the historical aspect of the games, read my article
HIGHLAND GAMES: THEN AND NOW:
Nancy Lee Badger writes fulltime and lives with her husband in Raleigh, NC. She loves everything Scottish. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and Celtic Heart Romance Writers. Visit her website www.nancyleebadger.com, and her blog
DRAGON’S CURSE is available from Whispers Publishing, Amazon for Kindle, Barnes & Nobel for Nook.