SSOW was well represented at this weekend’s Grandfather Mountain Highland Games in Linville! The weather mostly cooperated until Sunday, and we had a rather spectacular light show all around us (but not over us) on Thursday. We thought we had a really great spot at last year’s games, but this year, our tents were just inside the main gate, with full view of the dancing competitions and some of the athletics. I learned that the tent assignments are changed every year, and we lucked out two years in a row! New to the Games this year was the “Outlander Group,” who received special recognition and had a parade on Saturday. I heard Richard Rankin (Roger MacKenzie) and Duncan Lacroix (Murtagh Fitzgibbons) were on the mountain, but I didn’t catch a glimpse of either. [Edit: Richard Rankin was supposed to be there, but had to bail. Duncan stepped in for him and led the parade.]
The Torchlight Ceremony on Thursday night, with the calling of the Clans, is a truly moving event, and one I would not want to miss. Representatives from each Clan line up in the four corners of the field holding a torch, waiting as a torch-bearer comes down from the peak of Grandfather to light the first torch in each line. Watching that dot of light (it was on the opposite end of the field) come through the trees and down onto the field, then the torches being lit in turn, is magical. Hearing each representative call out, “The xxxx are here,!” is downright spine-tingling.
Friday dawned warm and sunny, but there’s almost always a breeze at MacRae Meadows (the site of the Games), at 5000+ feet of elevation. The crowds built throughout the days, and our “social” tent was full of SSOW members. The highlight of the day was shopping! And catching up with friends from far and near. That evening, several of us attended a performance of Highland Echoes (think Riverdance, only Scottish) in Boone that evening. The SSOW is a sponsor, so we got to go backstage and meet some of the dancers and visit with the director, Jennifer Licko.
On Saturday, the crowds grew and grew! A little rain didn’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm and we had great traffic in the SSOW/Cape Fear Scottish Immigration Memorial tent. We met some potential new members, and our members and friends had a great time hanging out in the social side of our space when they weren’t at their own Clan tents, shopping or tasting whisky. One of the highlights of the Games is the Massed Pipe Band, but we all had fun watching the sheepdog demonstrations and dancing competitions, too.
Sunday was a different story weather-wise. The day dawned wet and chilly and got worse from there. Scots are a hearty lot, though, and there were still a lot of people dodging the raindrops, and the competitions continued despite the conditions. The Parade of Tartans was the highlight of the day, with each Clan represented by their members attending the games. I was too busy at the time to take pictures, but I’ve added one from last year here.