The Scots return to the fields of Bonnie Brae School and Treatment Center in Liberty Corner, New Jersey this Saturday for the 25th Bonnie Brae Scottish Festival and Highland Games.
Bagpipes, drums, Highland dancers, sheep dogs, brawny athletes, British sports cars, show dogs, re-enactors, vendors and entertainers will be on hand for a full day of family activities at the Liberty Corner section of Bernards Township.
The event is held at Bonnie Brae to assist the school and raise community awareness of the work done on behalf of the boys that attend the facility. Bonnie Brae is one of the nation’s preeminent therapeutic learning environments for at risk adolescent boys, many of whom have been neglected, abused, or abandoned.
More than 600 pipers and drummers in two dozen plus bagpipe bands will compete and march throughout the day with a grand parade at noon, and again at 4:45 p.m. Also competing are more than 100 Highland Dancers ranging in ages from five to the early 20’s. Dance competitions include the Highland Fling and the Sword Dance. Other favorite events are the Scottish Athletics. Feats of strength include sheath toss, shot put and the caber toss.
A highlight of the festival will be the first appearance at Bonnie Brae by Albannach, Scotland’s premier Celtic Tribal Drum and Bagpipe Band. Performing across the US at Highland Games and Festivals, the four Scotsmen and one Scottish Lass write and perform tribal music with roots set firmly in their native soil’s haunting ballads and ancient war songs.
There will be plenty of musical entertainment ongoing throughout the day. Featured performers this year are Charlie Zahm blending guitar and Scottish Folk Songs. Joining Zahm will be fiddler player, Tad Marks and /guitar and percussionist, Mark Sullivan. A treat this year comes right from the Bonnie Brae boys themselves. The Bonnie Brae Knights Drum Corps will perform at the opening ceremony at noon. Featured at the President’s Obama’s Inauguration, and at the New York Tartan Day Parade; the boys will march and play for the hometown crowd.
As well, various kennel clubs will bring collies, Shetland sheep dogs, greyhounds and golden retrievers to the festival. Additionally, the Raspberry Ridge Sheep Farm from Bangor, Pa., will demonstrate sheep herding with their Scottish Border Collies. And for those of an automotive mind, the NJ Triumph Car Club will bring almost three dozen antique and British sports cars to the field.
There will be lots of Scottish style food, fish and chips, meat pies, bridies and of course haggis. Additionally, over two dozen organizations will help you search your Scottish ancestors, tell you all about the kilt and the various tartans, while re-enactors will teach and demonstrate the finer arts of swordplay. The Companions of the Cross invite everyone of all ages to try fencing. Jewelry, clothing, gifts, bagpipes and kilts will be on sale at the vendor village.
The event is held rain or shine.