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Monday, August 7, 2017

"Och aye the noo" for the Fergus Scottish Festival & Highland Games

(c) Postmedia Network/Sun Media newspapers/websites

   One-Tank Trip for Aug. 5/17

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Attention lads and lassies, “och aye the noo,” which in overt Scotticism translates to “Oh yes, just now.”
   We’re speaking about the Fergus Scottish Festival & Highland Games that will pipe its way into town from Aug. 11 to 13.
   In its 72nd year, it’s the oldest three-day Scottish Festival in North America and attracts some 30,000 visitors.
   In celebration of local Scottish heritage and culture – and this year Canada 150, too – there’s something for everyone, a Scot or not (nae), said Lee Puddephatt, marketing co-chair.
   Bring the clan for Celtic music, crafts for the kids and heavy events (including tossing cabers the size of telephone poles) huge stones and tugs-of-war.
A competitor gets ready to launch a caber in the Highland Games heavy events.
   There are bagpipes, drums, bands, Highland dancing, storytelling, singing, genealogy and heritage, beer tents, artisans, authors and vendors galore.
   Visitors can see pipe band competitions, a military tattoo, the heritage tent, Genealogy Centre, Avenue of the Artisans, McKiddie’s Centre and Celtic musicians.
   A variety of competitions will involve more than 700 Highland dancers.
Dancers kick up their heels and toes in the Scottish Festival competitions.
   They will perform the Highland Fling, Sword Dance, Seann Triubhas and the Strathspey and Half Tulloch in the festival championship.
   It will be a gathering of the clans, with up to 60 societies showing off their tartans.
   It’s said the games represent the largest gathering of clans in the world outside of Scotland and Cape Breton Island.
   The pipes are calling at the Fergus festival.
   They “indulge in exploring their histories,” creating new friendships and reuniting with those of old while participating in the appreciation of the ancient clan systems that existed in Scotland’s past.
   Visitors can even learn how to speak Gaelic and play the bagpipes.
   The festival hosts pipes and band competitions that showcase Ontario’s best talent.
   Featured is the Fergus Pipe Band, making its 90th anniversary, that’s still with a full roster of pipers and drummers ranging in age from 15 to 80.
   Speaking of music, the festival’s acts vary from traditional to electric bag rock.
   “We are absolutely tickled tartan with the music line-up for this year’s festival,” said Katie Sinclair, music venue chair.
The Red Hot Chilli Pipers from Scotland bring their “bagpipes with attitude.”
    This includes traditional highland melodies to headliners such as the Red Hot Chilli Pipers from Scotland for some “bagpipes with attitude and drums with a Scottish accent.”
   The Highland Pub will feature a rocking rotation of Celtic performers including festival favourite Albannach returning from Scotland with “bare-knuckle pipes and drums.”
   The Saturday night concert is a Hometown Reunion party with local band Fair Warning while the Celtic Traditions will be at Melville United Church.
   Other performers include Gillebride MacMillan, emcee of the Tattoo’d in Tradition, and new and returning talent.
   Fergus, a town of about 20,000 people on the banks of the Grand River north of Kitchener-Waterloo, is an ideal setting for the festival, given its Scottish roots.
   “Experience the rich heritage and the charming Scottish atmosphere as you stroll our streets,” the Fergus Business Improvement Area says.
The Scottish heritage of Fergus is shown in its architecture created by Scots.
   There’s a self-guided walking tour to “visit symbols of local history still standing strong in the midst of a bustling rural setting.”
   Traditional limestone masonry is abundant as it was used by Scottish settlers to build many of the heritage homes.
   Limestone also dominates the walls, park stairwells and the merchant buildings downtown.

   If you go
   The Fergus Scottish Festival & Highland Games is at the Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex, 550 Belsyde Ave. E.
   Opening hours are Aug. 11, 5 p.m.; Aug. 12, 8 a.m.; and Aug. 13, 9 a.m.
   Admission is $30 on Friday and Saturday, $20 on Sunday; and $60 for a weekend pass.
   Seniors, 60 plus and ages 13 to 18, are $25, $18 and $50, respectively; and no charge for children to age 12. Parking is $5 a day.
   Details: fergusscottishfestival.com; 1-866-871-9442


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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