Scots Fest takes over Long Beach

The Queen Mary hosted the 27th annual Scots Festival and International Highland games the weekend of Feb. 15 and Feb 16 in Long Beach, Calif. The festival of sport, dancing, music and food pays homage to the culture of Mary, Queen of Scots, for whom the monolithic vessel is named.

Highland Games

The International Highland Games are a series of traditional Scottish and Celtic sports. The majority of the events are throwing heavy objects for height or distance. At this year’s games, the court hosted the North American Professional Male Championship and North American Lightweight Women’s Championship.

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Leifa Ingalls, winner of the World’s Strongest Woman title, grabs resin wax to rub onto her hands as she prepares to participate in the Atlas stone event. The event has two parts; one where competitors lift the stones onto their shoulders as many times as they can in 60 seconds and the second event is lifting a heavier stone onto a metal barrel.
Strongman Chris Burke lifts the Atlas stone for the repetition event. The men’s Atlas stone is 460 pounds and the women have a 300 pound stone. Burke came in first in the competition.
Mikaela Sullivan throws the light hammer in the hammer throw event. The 36-year-old Arizona native participates in the light and heavy hammer events and holds records for both, which were broken at this year’s games.

Highland Dancing

Highland dancing is a staple of the Scots festival. Boys and girls compete using the same choreography and bag pipe song for a panel of judges who awards ranks. Fire dancing is also common feature at the Scots Fest.

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A little Highland dancer performs the sword dance.
She swept the competition in her division, winning five medals.

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Music and Parades

Pipe bands from all over the country come to compete and participate in the grand parade. The LA Scots, LA Fife and Drum, Glendora High School Pipe Band, Pasadena Scots and many other bands came to play.

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Clan Wallace walks in the grand parade, waving their clan’s flag as the crowd cheers loudly. The clan is known as the clan of William Wallace; a leader in the First War of Scottish Independence that inspired the biopic “Braveheart” starring Mel Gibson.

Things to do

Festival-goers could watch street performers, dart competitions, period reenactments, sheep hearding demonstrations and various performances around the festival. Shopping booths, axe throwing, and archery were also set up for Scots Fest ticket holders.

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Fish and chips, Scottish eggs, haggis, bangers and mash, whiskey and so much more was available for Scots Fest goers to purchase. To kick off the grand parade, Clan Scot Society  Southern California Commissioner Andy Scott gave the Address to the Haggis. The address is a reading of Scottish National Bard Robbie Burns’ poem of the same name followed by haggis and whiskey tastings for all. Reading the poem, which is a love letter to haggis, is meant to acknowledge that the food is reliable and feeds the common, humble family during hard times.

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