Saturday, February 13, 2016
The Scots Festival and Highland Games in Long Beach
Scots Festival honors nearly fifty Scottish clans & vendors throughout the weekend with professional and amateur competitions in piping, drumming, massed bands, darts, Highland dancing, and Highland athletics. The Scottish Highland Games, a pre-cursor to today’s Olympic Games, were designed to test the strength, skill and technique of ancient warriors by face offs.
I enjoyed the music and foods but I really wanted to see the Highland Games and they didn't disappoint.
Throwing the Weight (for height & distance) - Throwing the weight is divided into two separate categories: throwing for distance (with a 28-pound weight) and throwing for height (with a 56-pound weight). Throwing for distance involves the thrower to grasp the weight in one hand, spin around three times and toss. Tossing for height involves a high jump-style bar, which is raised after each successful attempt. Strength, speed and coordination are key to successfully competing in throwing the weight.
Putting the Shot - Derived from the “stone of strength,” which saw clansmen compete in tossing stones for distance, putting the shot is an excellent test of strength. With weights weighing anywhere from 16-to-22-pounds, athletes would lift the stone in one hand in front of their shoulders, run to gain momentum and release.
Sheaf Toss -Similar to the weight toss, the sheaf toss consists of competitors using a pitchfork to hurl a burlap bag stuffed with straw over a horizontal bar. Each competitor has three chances to toss the sheaf cleanly over the bar without touching it and the bar is raised after each round.
Both men and women participate in the games. I wanted to see as much of the games as I could but you had to pick and choose which ones you were going to watch as they had several competitions going on at the same time. So while the women were doing the Hammer Throw the men would Toss the weight for height and though everyone was in the middle grassy area you could really only watch one event at a time. I tried to watch a bit of each event (mostly men, as I couldn't resist a guy in a Kilt). I think my favorite was the Caber toss.. this is the most recognized Highland game and loads of fun to watch, though a few of those cabers fell back towards the crowd and gave us a bit of a scare.
All the Scottish shops were great, I was tempted once again to buy a Kilt as they had authentic ones that were really nice and pricey. I had to do alot of self control and now buy everything I saw as there were so many awesome "fantasy" type items. I did buy a nice blue and silver ring and a really nice silver tree charm for a necklace. I couldn't find the kind of necklace I liked but I have an awesome tree charm.
Towards the end of our visit we sampled some Scotch Eggs and Welsh Cakes. I actually had Scotch Eggs in England when I visited there a few years ago but this was the first time having Welsh Cakes and I have to say they are extremely tasty. We watch a bit of sheep herding and did a maze at the end of our visit.
I had a great time and I hope to make this an annual thing. You could never go wrong with guys in Kilts throwing big sticks around :)