Maine Highland Games

There will be a ‘wee bit o’ Scotland’ on tap for everyone this weekend at the 35th annual Maine Highland Games at the Topsham Fair Grounds.  President of the Maine St. Andrew’s  Society, Ron Thurston, gives us the details.

What is your own ethnicity / heritage?
I am Scottish on my mother’s side – she was a Grant – and my father was English – which may be where they got the need to argue about most things! My Glasgow born wife and I had the privilege to escort them to Scotland when they were in their mid 70’s – I wrote a piece for the St Andrews’s Society newsletter about that trip and the kilt my mother bought which I have attached.

When and why did you get involved with this event?
I have been President of the Maine St Andrew’s  Society for two years and a member for several more and was drafted to “volunteer” a few years ago to run the Patron’s tent. 

What are the challenges of being involved? 
The challenge for me as President is to get the volunteers to focus on making a profit – we have a modest endowment – and the Games have lost money eight of the last nine years.

What are the rewards?
The rewards are getting to know and work with like minded people and making new friends – as well as this thought I wrote for our Newsletter; I wanted to offer this reward for volunteering, it is all about nostalgia for our Scottish roots, which Wikepedia describes as a “sentimentality for the past, typically for a period or place with happy associations.”  In a recent New York Times article quoted in today’s Portland Sun newspaper under the heading ‘What is Nostalgia Good For” the paper notes “Nostalgia has been shown to counteract loneliness, boredom and anxiety. It makes people more generous to strangers and more tolerant of outsiders. Couples feel closer and look happier when they’re sharing nostalgic memories”. And best of all “on cold days or in cold rooms people use nostalgia to literally feel warmer.” So join us as a volunteer and become less lonely and warmer at the same time. What a bargain!

Why is it an important event for the community here?
The nostalgia rewards are the same for the community.

What can attendees expect this year?
We have changed the format of the Friday night Clan dinner to a Clan gathering where we will burn an English castle and have a free meal cooked over an open fire by  re enactors. The Games will focus more on Pipes and drums and traditional Scottish music.   

How else are you involved with the Celtic community here?
As President of the Society I am involved to some degree in all activities – I also have a relationship with McLay Foods in Glasgow who license a Maine Sausage Company to  manufacture and distribute McKean Haggis throughout the US.

Are we doing enough to preserve and promote Celtic culture generally?
I think we could do a much better job enhancing the Scottish Brand – which is really the St Andrew’s Society – if we strengthen that brand then we can strengthen the culture.