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Kearney Park hosts 35th annual Highland Gathering & Games

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[/media-credit] The Gathering and Games offers an average of 2,000 attendees the chance to enjoy Scottish culture, food and history.

Celebration of Scottish Culture offers fun and food

Bagpipes could be heard across the property and smells of meat pies drifted as people crowded at 7160 West Kearney Boulevard in Fresno, Sept. 15. People of Scottish roots and those just looking for a good time arrived for the 35th annual Highland Gathering and Games to celebrate everything Scottish.

People of all sorts come to enjoy the Highland Gathering and Games. Magicians, people of scottish clans and roots, to bag pipers or drummers, dancers, cooks and people who have come to enjoy Scottish history.

According to the Scottish Society of Central California (SSCC) website, the games were originally hosted by the Celtic Cultural Society of Central California but in 1984, the games were taken over by the SSCC; it is now considered one of the best one-day Scottish festivals on the West Coast.

The Gathering and Games offers an average of 2,000 attendees the chance to enjoy Scottish culture, food and history. Robyn Guiterrez, Clan Fraser ad Chieftain of this year’s Games, discussed why the festival was held.

“The whole purpose of attending the games is to give the general public an opportunity to enjoy Scottish culture, events, enjoy the food and learn while having fun,” Guiterrez said. “We bring authentic foods from a time past as well as Clan Row where one can sit with their clansman and relate.”

Many people who have been to Scotland and attend the games believe that Kearney Park is the ideal location to host the event. Guiterrez discussed the location of the Gathering and Games and the peoples’ opinion on it.

“It’s a family day where young and old alike will find entertainment, music, friendships and remember our past and what our ancestors sacrificed to come to America,” Guiterrez said. “We receive calls throughout the year asking if we will be hosting our games at the location. It’s almost like going home to Scotland. All we need is a glen with a river running through it and we’d be set.”

Clan booths and vendors line the field, selling things like clan shirts, jewelry, Scottish foods and metal works. People wear the traditional dress and some, such as the blacksmith, work right in front of passersby.

Steve Morgan joined the Society for Creative Anachronism because of his interest for obtaining accurate weapons relative to the time period and acts as one of the blacksmiths.

“I took lessons from a blacksmith and began to make my own weapons,” Morgan said. “I now go to renascence fairs, pirate festivals, civil war reenactments and other festivals such as the Gathering and Games. We sell to the people there who are re-enactors who need stuff that is from the right time period and made the right way. It’s a lot of fun.”

The athletics held at the festival include Open/Bramer Stones, weights for distance, the Scottish Hammer, caber toss and weight for height. Though the games are mainly professional, children may participate if a parent or guardian signs them up to play; the athletics include sports all originating from Scotland.

Another thing the Highland Gathering and Games provides is the bands to add to the atmosphere. This year at the games, Avalon Rising, Pipe on the Hob and the Harp Society and violinist Michael Mullen were featured, along with the pipers and drummers who played throughout the day.

The Stag and Thistle Pipe Band was one of the bands who played at the festival. Freshman Emily Spradling, from Bullard High School, is one of the members in the band.

“We go to the Highland Gathering and Games to help promote our band and to inform people about the Scottish culture,” Spradling said. “I enjoy going to the games to watch the caper toss. I also enjoy the food.”

Stag and Thistle Pipe Band state their reasons for playing: “to preserve and promote the Great Highland Bagpipe, excellence in piping and the love of bagpipe music.”

The pipers marched on field during the opening ceremony, welcoming the entrance of the clans who parade past with their banners. Dance competitions are held, magicians preform and athletics are participated in.

The Central California Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals mobile adoption and Central California Blood Center Bloodmobile also appeared at the games. The games also hold the North American Hammer Throw Championship, along with professional and youth athletics.

Though the games only have one day to offer this experience, the SSCC would like to be able to offer the festival for a longer time period.

“We would like to be ale to offer a two-day games festival in order to provide more cultural events,” Gutierrez said. “We’d like to expand our Living History Village and draw more professional athletes from all over the United States and Canada.”

For more information on the games, contact Robyn Gutierrez. For information on the Clan Coveners, contact Cuff Burell or call him at 559.924.0922. For food and merchandise vendor information, contact Gutierrez or Mary Anderson or call
559.227.8169. To learn more about Fresno Stag and Thistle Pipe Band, contact Business Manager Ken Bain at 559.439.5553.

For more features, read the Sept. 28 article, Seventh grader sets motorcycle record.

Follow The Feather via Twitter and Instagram: @thefeather and @thefeatheronline. This writer can be reached via Twitter: @ejLadd

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