I attended my first Scottish Festival this past weekend in Long Beach, CA at the Queen Mary. I have long been a big supporter of kilts (Real Men Do Wear Kilts), so why not explore my culture with a few friends in tow? I am actually Scottish on my mother’s side. The family name is Moir, which is part of the Gordon clan.
The festival had booths selling Scottish/Celtic items everything from kilts to shortbread cookies to teddy bears and jewelry. They also had booths for the different clans of Scotland as well as other upcoming Scottish Festivals in the Southern California area. Plus Scottish meat pies, haggis, ales and whiskey too.
Throughout the day, there were athletics going on, as well as highland dancing, pipe (bag pipes) and drum demonstrations, and even a dart competition. The athletics competition consisted of the following:
- Caber toss: This is the big event, it looks like they are trying to toss a telephone pole. There was a memorable scene with this in the movie “Made of Honor.” A long pole or log is stood upright and hoisted by the competitor who balances it vertically. Then the competitor runs forward attempting to toss it in such a way that it turns end over end with the upper end striking the ground first. Competitors are judged on how closely their throws approximate the ideal 12 o’clock toss on an imaginary clock.
- Stone put: This event is similar to the modern-day shot put as seen in the Olympic Games. Instead of a steel shot, a large stone of variable weight is often used. The stone is put with one hand with the stone resting cradled in the neck until the moment of release.
- Scottish hammer throw: This event is similar to the hammer throw as seen in modern-day track and field competitions, though with some differences. In the Scottish event, a round metal ball is attached to a wire and handle. With the feet in a fixed position, the hammer is whirled about one’s head and thrown for distance over the shoulder. (We actually didn’t see this, as it was held elsewhere in the venue).
- Weight throw, also known as the weight for distance event. The weights are made of metal and have a handle attached either directly or by means of a chain. The implement is thrown using one hand only, but otherwise using any technique. Usually a spinning technique is employed. The longest throw wins.
- Weight over the bar, also known as weight for height. The athletes attempt to toss a weight with an attached handle over a horizontal bar using only one hand. Each athlete is allowed three attempts at each height. Successful clearance of the height allows the athlete to advance into the next round at a greater height.
- Sheaf toss: A bundle of straw (the sheaf) and wrapped in a burlap bag is tossed vertically with a pitchfork over a raised bar much like that used in pole vaulting. The progression and scoring of this event is similar to the Weight Over The Bar.
We also watched some of the drum major competition. They had to walk across an area, doing their best march along with twirling their batons and striking certain poses. My lover called the whole process “doing the pimp walk” — cause you had to have a certain swag, attitude and posture as you did the routine.
Overall, we had a good time, saw some cute guys in kilts and enjoyed some Scottish culture. I would definitely recommend this event to other people. The Queen Mary was also available for people to tour as part of their Scottish Festival admission. We spent some time touring the engine room as well as the upper deck.
Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including the Real Men Wear Kilts line. They make great gifts for Easter and birthdays.