Seventeen fantastic years of celebration are now in the books! For now, the crowds have dispersed and the pipes have grown silent but the feeling lingers on and on – and on!
The Gathering of the Scots festival have done it again – another first to mark their place in time! And “Gather” they did in 2018 but with a new theme of motivation. Their goal? To set the record straight with a stirring exhibition of the “Largest Clan March in the World”!
Over 45 banners were raised high in procession and introduced to the field at noon on Saturday. Hundreds of faithful Clansmen – some travelling many hours to participate, diligently fell into formation to honor their family heritage – and to compete for world ranking! Although results are still preliminary, the numbers look very encouraging with final confirmation pending from Guinness. We should know very soon!
Interestingly, the Gathering of the Scots has had a number of “firsts” overs the years. They were the first highland games in New Brunswick to offer specifically tailored female divisions for Scottish Athletics – a now universally accepted component of all competition. In 2011, they were the first to host a National Championship in our Province with the Canadian Scottish Athletic Masters Championship. 12 years ago, they introduced their first annual Whisky-Pairing dinner! An elegant event now reserving ticket-holders 12 months in advance! They even hold the unique honor of hosting the only Birds of Prey (Falconry) demonstrations in our Province!
It’s a unique group, this Gathering of the Scots crew! Their secret? Some say passion, some say just good old-fashioned hard work! “What we do here in Perth-Andover doesn’t start and stop with the festival in early June anymore”, says one organizer Rod MacIntosh. “Over the years, it’s become part of our fabric – part of who we are”. Long before the festival, local schools see workshops and athletic exhibitions for their students to participate in. Junior athletic programs are encouraged. In the dead of winter, Robert Burns is celebrated and whisky-pairing dinners come again each spring. Heritage fairs are always attended with cultural exhibitions and festival promotions. What started as a tiny celebration 17 years ago has grown into one of our Province’s most unique celebrations of Scottish heritage!
“The Gathering is a true community event”, MacIntosh says. “We have over 50 generous sponsors supporting efforts annually along with dozens of volunteers that implement every facet of the celebration. Seventeen years is a long time! The passion for the Gathering and the vision for its continued success are firmly engrained in the community and its people – it means a lot to us personally”!
2018 was a good year! Our 2nd annual Masonic Beer-Tasting Workshop and the Kilted Golf were well attended. On Saturday, the clans marched in rows and falcons flew over the field! Workshops in piping/drumming, whisky-tasting and athletics were well attended. The fly-casting competition was busy with top honors going to a local fisherman, Steve Braun. As always, Scottish Athletics and 7’s Rugby were very exciting! Archery and the new Axe-Throwing venues were very popular as well. Five wonderful pipe bands – all New Brunswickers – awed the crowds with massed and individual performances. The haggis was “smoked” this year and very popular at the festival Tea Tent! A new “wool to shawl” demonstration intrigued visitors and main stage music throughout the day highlighting local talent se the mood! AND, with baited anticipation, the Castalia Stone was appointed her 2nd “Keeper” – one of the trio who originally wrestled her from the icy waters of the Muniac Stream – Kevin Robinson. Dirk Bishop, her original Keeper, performed the honors and will now move aside taking the lifetime honor as our first “Knight of the Castalia Stone”. Visit Castalia on her Facebook page as the journey continues!
So, where do we go from here? Well, plans are already well underway for 2019. Some things that are on the table? If all goes as planned, the Gathering is hoping to host the Province’s first National Woman’s Scottish Athletics Championship. And they are hoping to see an old friend return in 2019! Negotiations are underway to see the Kincardine Pipe Band (Kincardine, Ontario) return to the Gathering after almost a decade away!
Mark in on your calendars now! Make plans early to attend the 2019bGathering of the Scots in Perth-Andover (May 29th – June 2nd) . . . The home of the World’s Largest Clan March!