Men in kilts playing bagpipes, sheepdogs actually herding sheep, authentic meat pies, swordsmen and archers filled the Queen Mary in Long Beach over the weekend. As a way to celebrate Scottish heritage, southern California natives packed the Queen Mary event center to watch traditional Scottish athletic and musical competitions.
With 14 different pipe bands and color guards, there was music aplenty to make the gathering festive and authentic. Highland clans like the Campbells, MacDougalls and Cochranes were represented at booths that offered education about the history of their Scottish lineage as well as opportunities to get involved in their local heritage societies.
Many young ladies from the clans came together to do traditional country dances together, their skirts twirling and bouncing with quick steps and graceful turns. A small group to the side played authentic Celtic harps to create the music for the girls to dance to.
There were, of course, activities for the gentlemen: the athletic games were rife with competition. Brothers opposed brothers in the caber toss, where one lifts a huge beam of wood against their shoulder and tosses it forward, hoping to have it fall perfectly straight in order to gain points. The most popular of the games was the weight throw where men, clad in their tartans and kilts, picked up large boulders and flung them as far as they could.
For pet enthusiasts and little ones, there was a demonstration of sheep herding. Using collies and sheepdogs, these farmers showed the city folks how to train pups to do what they were bred to: corral the sheep into a group and move them across the field. Untrained collies and the more seasoned dogs alike were excited to get close to the sheep.
Whether you come to celebrate your own heritage or to learn about Scottish culture, the Annual Highland Games are a fun time to gather family and friends and listen to great music and eat authentic mutton and meat pies!