Be Scots for a day at the Highland Games
The color guard is part of the traditional Parade of Clan Tartans during the Highland Games.
‘Scottish Festival and Highland Games’
4-10 p.m. Friday, June 15; 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, June 16
Hamilton Lakes, at I-290 and Thorndale Avenue, Itasca; parking is $5
Friday admission: children 12 and under, free; adults $12
Saturday admission: children under 2 free; children ages 3-12, $5; adults $20
(708) 447-5092 ore see chicagoscots.org
Updated: June 12, 2012 5:40PM
Spines tingle when more than 1,000 pipers and drummers break into the throbbing tones of “Amazing Grace” to signal the end of the annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games each year.
“Every time I talk about it, I get goose bumps,” said Julia Witty, director of programming with the Chicago Scots, who will be on hand at Hamilton Lakes in Itasca both days this year, the 26th for the games’ traditional closing ceremonies and hymn.
But before that, the biggest Scottish festival in the Midwest will run from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday and from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, with a colorful activity-filled program.
“We have traditional and contemporary Scottish music with pipe bands and also some contemporary Celtic rock,” Witty said. “We have an entire children’s area with different activities including a mini Heavy Athletics, so the kids can try some of the different sports they’re seeing on the Heavy Athletics field. We have a Celtic market place with different vendors from around the country selling everything from iron brew and shortbread to kilts and other apparel.”
There’s also a British car show, pipe band competitions and Highland dance competitions, whiskey tastings, along with the Heavy Athletics and plenty of rugby.
The most popular
events are the Heavy Athletics, featuring traditional Scottish contests like the Caber Toss (flipping a 20-foot, 140-pound tree trunk), the 22-pound Hammer Throw, the Sheaf Toss (flipping a bale of hay over a high bar), and the Clachneart (throwing a 16-pound river stone).
The competitors wear traditional Scottish kilts to compete. “People are definitely decked out full-on for the entire day,” she said.
Some of the more whimsical competitions include a haggis hurling contest for women. Lassies will stand on half a whiskey barrel and attempt to throw a frozen pound of haggis the farthest, she said. Anyone can register at the Scottish Cultural Tent.
You don’t have to be Scots to have fun. “We welcome everybody who is Scottish by birth, heritage or inclination,” Witty said. “It’s definitely a very welcoming community.”