NOTE: I’m running a bit behind with the blog posts and I’m trying to catch up. This was from last weekend. Also, this is the first post since making some changes to the site, so I’m hoping this goes smoothly.
The Scots were back in town! That meant parades, weird music, weird athletics, and even weirder food. This year we participated in the Great Scots Parade, as we usually do with the Upstate Minis, and I made the Saturday trek up to Furman to see the games.
Great Scots Parade
The activities started Friday afternoon with the Great Scots Parade through downtown Greenville. As we have done in the past, we joined the Upstate Minis to bring up the rear of the parade. This time, however, there was a twist. Joining us in the Mini would be my sister, Glynda, and our great niece and nephew Olivia and Ethan.
For this parade most of the Mini owners decorate their cars with tartans and other Scottish accouterments.
Usually we don’t, but this year Laura wanted to decorate, so she brought flowers to festoon the back of our car.
While Olivia put flowers in her hair, Ethan had his own ideas about decorating for the parade.
It was a long wait for the kids until parade time. They watched as folks in kilts and various other costumes walked by. One of the problems with being in a parade is that you don’t get to see all of the other stuff.
Just before the kids went too stir crazy it was time to load up and line up for the parade. Somehow we managed to fit all five of us in the Mini.
Ethan loved the parade. He waved at everyone, and even greeted folks from his school. Olivia was a bit more…reserved. We had to coax her to wave at everyone. Both kids loved the parade, though, and it was great having them with us.
Furman Scottish Games
This year I had a goal. I wanted to spend as much time listening to music as possible. It really didn’t matter to me if I saw any of the athletics or other competitions. I had seen that they were having a “Celtic Happy Hour” at 5:30. My plan was to go over early and listen a bit, then maybe come back later for the 5:30 event.
I arrived about mid-morning and there was already a crowd gathering. I stopped by the British Car Show to see my friend at Upstate Minis. I also had to drool over the other cars, too. Rolls Royce was the featured brand this year.
Laura had been able to get me a ticket ahead of time, so I was able to skip the line and walk on in. I could hear piping competitions and athletics on the field, but my first stop was at the vendors. There were tartans of all stripes, so to speak, and enough stuff to turn anyone into a Scot, or at least make them look like one.
One tent had Bodhrans. I’ve been wanting one since I’ve gotten on this percussion kick, and thought at least one of the vendors might have something like this. Alas, they were made of plastic and had some tacky Irish designs on them. Plus, they were far too expensive. I decided it could wait. I also decided to pass on the Utilikilts.
This year, as in the past, there was lots of merchandise aimed at the “fantasy Scot.” This is just another form of cosplay, but with a William Wallace/Braveheart bent to it.
I took a quick turn through the clan tents. In the past I’ve always checked in with the Cameron Clan, which is supposedly my clan by virtue of “Taylor” being a sept of that group. However, the last time I was here they were no-shows, and this year there was also no one from the Camerons. I have no clue why.
What I discovered was that I could claim kinship with probably a dozen of the different clans through other ancestor surnames. For example, courtesy of my great-grandfather Nathaniel Calloway Todd, I could claim membership in either the Gordon or McTavish Clan. Other family surnames put us with the McGregor, Lamont, and McPherson Clans.
At 11:30 on the main field there was a Memorial Day tribute to Armed Forces, complete with paratroopers and mass pipe bands. There was also a flyover featuring vintage WWII aircraft, once in a delta formation and then in the “Missing Man” formation.
After the salute the games began again. I watched a couple of caber tosses, but didn’t stick around.
It’s been 30 years since I’ve been to Scotland. I ate some weird things – blood sausage, strange hamburgers, etc., but I never tried any haggis. I decided to give it a shot today. I found a vendor that didn’t look too crowded and got a haggis pocket. It was…interesting. I don’t think it will be one of my favorites, but at least I didn’t wretch.
I actually had that before the military tribute. Afterwards I was still in the mood for something, so I found another vendor and got a sampler plate that had Scottish BBQ (pulled pork that seemed no different from what we have around here), shepherd’s pie, and haggis. By itself the haggis wasn’t so great, but it was OK when mixed with the other two.
Finally I got around to the music. I entered the tent as the band Cleghorn was getting started. Basically it was a heavy metal band with bagpipes and fiddle. The standard uniform seemed to be black tank top and kilt – for band members and groupies alike. And, yes, there were groupies.
I had a beer and listened to them for awhile. Crowds under the tent began to gather. After a brief break the group Barleyjuice came on stage. This was an odd line-up featuring bagpipes and three drums. Yeah, they also wore black tank tops and kilts.
I have to confess. I was disappointed in the music, and tired of the self-absorbed theatrics quickly. It all seemed over the top. I guess I was hoping for something more along the lines of what I’d heard in the pubs in Ireland. The musicians were quite talented, no doubt. It just took on an air of staged silliness that wore thin very quickly.
Back in our early years together Laura and I attended the Black Mountain Music Festival. The featured group was Rare Aire, and they struck us the same way – over the top and full of self-importance. The other close analogy is from the movie Serendipity, and the character played by John Corbett – the shanai-playing new age musician. Ugh.
I decided that the Celtic Happy Hour would just be more of the same, and that I’d probably had enough. I called it a day and headed on home.
I enjoyed the Scottish Games, and will probably be back in the parade next time we can join them, and will probably be back to listen to more music. It’s just that a little can go a long way. So in 2019 when we’re back in town, I might have recovered enough to enjoy it again.