Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games

Celtic Music, crafts for the kids, heavy events championships, bagpipes, drums, author appearances, bands, Highland dancing, story telling, singing, clan information and heritage, beer tents, vendors ~ there’s something for everyone at this weekend’s Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games. Event coordinator Mary Lloyd tell us how to enjoy the best of Scotland… without the airfare!

What is your own ethnicity / heritage?
I am Canadian born with ancestry that originates in Great Britain – England

When and why did you get involved with this event?
I began volunteering through a service club on gate security in 1988. Since that time I have risen through the ranks of the festival by organizing the beer tent/gardens for 8 years and later becoming the event manager of the festival (3 years)

What are the challenges of being involved?
Dealing with the event being held in the great outdoors – weather can be our friend or foe…

What are the rewards?
Seeing the patrons smiling and enjoying the event and helping the volunteer groups in and around Centre Wellington raise funds for various projects.

Why is it an important event for the community there?
With a history of 67 years the festival and the name of our town Fergus have become synonymous.  We have an economic impact in our community of over 2 million dollars.

What can attendees expect this year?
We are hosting a Guinness World Book attempt to turn 60 cabers on August 9 – that is opening our Tattoo featuring Highland Creek Pipe and Drums, the 48th Royal Regiment, Tommy Leadbeater, Liam McGlashon closing with a fireworks display.  Our Author series hosts Diana Gabaldon for speaking and book signings both Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday has us hosting the Canadian Scottish Athletic Federation – men’s championship, 700 highland dancers, Canadian Tug of War championship, Grades 1-4 Pipe and Drum competitions, with an off-site evening concert at the theatre.  Sunday Ladies take to the heavy field for competition, Grade 5 Pipe and Drum competition and another 200 dancers take to stage for competition.   

How else are you involved with the Celtic community there? 
We host a downtown parade the day before the festival and have special music in all the local bars with a showing of the movie Brave at the theatre.  Annually we celebrate Robbie Burns day with a dinner and show, Tartan Day with strolling pipe bands, Saturdays on the weekend “Piper on the Bridge” in downtown Fergus, and this year we hosted a fundraising show at the theatre “Auch! Ay!, Kilts and Cabers” in July.

Are we doing enough to preserve and promote Celtic culture generally?
We are always looking for ways for the festival to be involved with the community to help continue the image that we are Fergus – home of the Scottish Festival

What can we be doing better?
Always need to encourage the younger generations to find out who they are – and invite others to be Scottish for the weekend.

What does the future look like for the event?
We are currently rebuilding due to three major issues in 2011-2012 – and are hoping that 2013 will mark the rebirth of the festival and help set the stage for many more years to come.