There is an old Scottish toast . . . used to this day in the ancient hills of Kincardine and Kintore, NB near the Village of Perth-Andover. It not a complicated one, with line upon line of rousing verse, but rather only 6 simple words carefully composed and dutifully passed down through the ages – to pay tribute to those ancestors that left the Glens of Scotland so many years ago in search of better lives for themselves and family. With glasses raised, the message is simple but passionate: “To those that came before us”! This simple toast speaks volumes asking us to never forget the severe hardships and major accomplishments attained by this small group of Scottish settlers that immigrated to the wilderness of our Province so many years ago.
Fast forward 142 years. . . I think those determined Scottish settlers of 1873-1874 would be impressed! For well over a decade now, a dedicated group of volunteers have worked diligently to ensure the cultural heritage and traditions of these people have not been allowed to fade into oblivion. Scottish cultural projects are proudly displayed at Regional Heritage Fairs in the Province, Perth-Andover hosts an elegant 6-course Whisky-Pairing dinner each spring complete with bagpipers and Celtic music, the majestic Aroostook Valley Country Club welcomes visitors to their annual “Celtic Scramble” golf tourney, the historic Larlee Creek church opens its doors for the exclusive “Kirking of the Tartans” ceremony, and a vast array of beautiful Scottish plaids and flags line the roads during the region’s annual “paint the town plaid contest”!
However the “Crowning Jewel” of all these efforts takes place every spring – the annual “Gathering of the Scots Festival”! Each spring, as spring rejuvenates the valley, the people of Perth-Andover prepare to welcome hundreds of visitors from across Maritime Canada, Ontario, Quebec and our neighbors from the state of Maine for a weekend of Celtic celebration. The streets come alive with dozens of festival banners and decorations, colorful Scottish kilt-wearers hit the streets and Veteran’s Field (in the center of the village) is transformed into a site of celebration with dozens of kiosks, athletics, stages and interactive workshops! Festival weekend has finally arrived!