Greenville Scottish Games

storyThe Scots brought more to America than just the bagpipes; independence, a fierce fighting spirit, a strong love of family and clan, a quirky sense of humor and enjoyment in their surroundings. All that will be on display in South Carolina this weekend at the Greenville Scottish Games. The event’s Director of Marketing Jay Spivey gives us the details.

What are your own roots?
My own ethnic heritage is strictly Scottish and Welsh. With Currie as a prominent name on my Father’s side and McIntosh on my Mother’s side – I’m neck deep in Scottish heritage. Our first McIntosh family members emigrated to North Carolina in the mid 1700s. I had a Great Aunt who also traced part of my Mother’s family back to Wales in the year 1009.

When and why did you get involved with this event?
I began my work with the Greenville Scottish Games 8 years ago as a volunteer helping set up the children’s section called Wee Scotland. I so fell in love with the event that I kept getting more and more involved until being asked to serve on the Board of Directors 3 years ago. Now, as Marketing Director of the Games – my life is completely filled with donning the kilt at every opportunity!

Why is it an important event for the community there?
Our Upcountry region of South Carolina was originally settled by many Scots and Ulster Scots who played a pivotal role in the development of Greenville and the surrounding areas. I would like to tell as many of our residents about our Scottish heritage as possible for it is historically significant. The Greenville Scottish Games is a perfect way to celebrate this wonderful heritage.

Who attends the event?
We get people from all over the region coming to our Games! Clans, heavy athletic competitors and pipe & drum bands come to our event because it is not only fun, but we have a most beautiful setting for it at Furman University. Also, our Great Scot! Parade on Main Street in downtown Greenville on the Friday night before the Games is something to behold!

What can they expect this year?

The 2014 Greenville Scottish Games and the Gallabrae experience is going to be exciting this year. Not only do we have dancers, pipers, drummers, exhibitors, vendors, Wee Scotland for the kids, heavy athletics, border collie demonstrations, raptors, Royal Highland Fusiliers serving as our Honor Guard, clans and woods faeries – we also have some of the best Celtic music to be heard. Add to that the first Rock The Kilt (best legs in the world) contest and our Scottish Invasion theme this year and you get tons of reasons to come join us for the fun!

Will you remain involved with the event in the years ahead?
I am so hooked on everything Scottish that I foresee me being involved with this event for the rest of my life.

How else are you involved with the Celtic community there?
I am fortunate to serve on the Board of Directors of the St. Andrews Society of Upper South Carolina. I work closely between the Games and the SASUSC in helping promote our Scottish heritage and I work with others to bring over 8 Royal Highland Fusiliers each year from Scotland to serve as our Honor Guard for the Games.

Is enough being done to preserve and promote Celtic culture generally?
We strive with the Greenville Scottish Games to work with the British Embassy’s Scotland Affairs officers, friends and clan chiefs in Scotland and our local political and business leaders on a regular basis to promote our heritage and common interests. In addition to the Games – our St. Andrews Society members strive to always support and promote anything Scottish we can!

What can we be doing better?
I believe that it is our responsibility to teach younger generations about how influential and meaningful our Scottish heritage is to our country’s history. Also, Celtic music and it’s influences on American folk music is substantial and I think that this is an easy way to reach all ages – just play more of the music that belongs to our Celtic heritage. It is hard not to be moved by the pipes.