A Forecast of Fun and Festivities!

The weatherman is calling for a mix of sun and cloud in Kincardine, Ontario this weekend, with thunder showers expected on Saturday night. That won’t stop the fun and festivities at the Kincardine Scottish Festival & Highland Games however. The gathering’s event manager Janice Griffith is forecasting good times over the coming three days.

How long has the Kincardine Scottish Festival been around?
2012 will be the 13th annual Kincardine Scottish Festival and Highland Games.

What is the Festival’s core mandate?
The Festival’s core mandate is to provide an event of excellent entertainment and educational value showcasing Scottish pipe bands, solo pipers, drummers, highland dancers and athletes and to provide an opportunity for all ages to compete with their peers and advance their expertise. At the same time we are promoting awareness of Scottish Heritage and of Canadian performing artists.

How has it grown over the years?
It began as a one day event and has expanded to three days. There were 12 pipe bands competing when it started and it has grown to include over 30 bands. Heavy Events that were once a demonstration sport are now a regular competition. The first year there were 4 vendors, and we now fill the park with 15 food and specialized theme vendors.

Who attends the gathering?
People from across the country, visitors from Europe and the United States as well as the local people attend. Kincardine being such a beautiful tourist area, famous for its Lake Huron sunsets makes it a popular vacation destination and visitors often combine the Festival into their vacation.

What can they expect to experience this year?
This year they will experience world class Pipe band competitions, 200 Highland dancers in competition, great Celtic music in three concerts featuring groups like the Mudmen, Poor Angus, the Thogs, and, thanks to a special sponsorship, the RCMP Pipes and Drums from Ottawa. There will be Clan Avenue, a Clan parade, as well as the traditional Saturday night Parade of the Kincardine Scottish Pipe band, great food, vendors selling all things Celtic, athletes competing in caber toss, hammer throw and other traditional highland sports.

Why is it an important event for the Celtic community there?
Kincardine and the farming area surrounding have Celtic roots going back to the mid 1800’s when many families emigrated from Scotland to make a new life in Canada. Their descendants are still very much in evidence in the area. The Festival is an opportunity to reconnect with those roots, to experience and enjoy fellowship of other Celtic communities that attend the festival. It is a time of homecoming for the sons and daughters who grew up here and have moved away.

Why is it important for the non-Celtic community there?
Everyone becomes a scot at Festival. It is a chance for the non-Celtic community to learn and experience the heritage that founded the area, and to share not only our homes, but our heart-felt lakeside town welcome, and to experience the best of the best in Pipe band, Highland Dance and Heavy Events competition.

What are plans for the Festival in the years ahead?
We have an active volunteer Executive who are full of ideas for making our festival even better and more vibrant in years to come. Stay tuned!

Is enough being done to preserve and promote Celtic culture in Canada and around the world?
With the many Scottish Festival and competitions, a great deal is being done to preserve Scottish heritage. Certainly in our area, the Kincardine Scottish, which celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2008, has been passing on the piping and drumming skills to successive generations. They parade down Main Street every Saturday night in the summer and locals and tourists line the street and many march behind them.

What can we be doing better?
It’s hard to say. We are certainly doing what we can and having a lot of fun doing it!

Are young people still interested in Celtic culture?
In our experience many are. We see many young people taking up piping and drumming and Highland Dance. This year we are having a junior section to the Heavy events as well.  We are pleased that the executive of the festival now includes some younger members of the community, which bodes well for the future.