A Welcome Relief

It has been quite a year for the residents of Tobique Narrows and Perth-Andover, New Brunswick; in March, both communities were devastated by flooding when the St. John River spilled over its banks. A state of emergency was declared, and 500 locals were relocated after Premier David Alwad stepped in with disaster funding.

Still, despite the crisis, Murray Grant and others involved with the annual Gathering of the Scots (GOTS) festival were determined to carry on.

“The aftermath of the flood is still with us,” shares the long-time committee member. “However, there has been an overwhelming sentiment from the folks we have talked to that the festival must go on. Our budget is drastically reduced, as many of our most generous patrons have funneled their donations where it was most needed – the flood relief – but a few folks and organizations have been very generous, including the Village of Perth-Andover, and we will be able to offer the same quality program as in year’s past.”

That program kicks into gear tomorrow with a Scottish Athletics Workshop and continues through the weekend.

Friday’s events include a ‘Celtic Scramble’ golf tournament at nearby Aroostook Valley Golf and Country Club, junior and senior ‘Heavyweights’ competitions and an evening ‘Castle Ceilidh’.

“Saturday will be choc-a-bloc with the Heavy events, pipe-bands, stage performances,  a fly-casting competition and a host of workshops including whisky tasting and a story telling seminar,” notes Grant.

Other activities include rugby matches, highland dancing, a tug-of-war and athletic events for children.

And while Closing Ceremonies are scheduled for Saturday night, the festival is likely to carry-over into Sunday as revelers recover from the festivities.

“The Gathering of the Scots is a unique event in this area of New Brunswick and has attracted a strong following,” says Grant. “Not just among those of Scottish decent, but also from the Irish and even the Sassenach. It is the largest festival of its kind in Northwestern New Brunswick and the largest festival in Victoria County.” 

He adds that the gathering is more then a financial boon to the area’s devastated economy. “It brings the local community together for a few days of fun and camaraderie. And right now we need that focal point – especially in the wake of the recent flooding – and this event is providing that welcome relief.”