St. Louis Scottish Games

The Scottish Games return to St. Louis’ Forest Park this weekend with highland athletics, bagpipes, folk music, food, drink, crafts, goods, highland dancing, kids activities, sheepdog trials, sword fighting, birds of prey and much more. Publicist Mark Iain Sutherland fills us in on the festivities.

What are your roles and responsibilities with the event?
Our Games are 100% volunteer run, and I have the honor of promoting the Games through the local media and encouraging people to come and enjoy an incredible celebration of all things Scottish. -What is the event’s core mandate? Our objectives are to foster and encourage open exchange of cultural, educational, and recreational concepts and pursuits between those with an interest in the culture and heritage of Scotland and others in the Greater St. Louis area.

How has it grown over the years?
We continue to see new people coming and experiencing Scottish culture for the first time, adding to those who are experiencing the Games for the second, third or ninth time. It’s incredible to see the eyes of a child as they see their first sword fight, or watch large men throw cabers end over end. We see more athletes competing, more bagpipers playing, and a growing excitement about Scotland that builds each and every year. -Who attends the gathering? It is definitely an all-ages crowd and very family friendly. We have families with kids of all ages attending, teenagers, young adults, retired citizens and every age in between. Many wear kilts, but many don’t. It is a very friendly, welcoming and fun event for people of all sorts, of all ages, of all accents.

What can they expect to experience this year?
This year we kick off the Games on Friday night with a ceilidh or folk concert featuring Ed Miller and John Taylor, accompanied by Jil Chambless and Scooter Muse. It will also feature the traditional calling of the clans, and some great food and drink. Saturday we have a full day of music, bagpipes, athletics, sheepdog trials, children’s activities, food and merchandise vendors, sword fighting, highland dancing and much more.

Why is it an important event for the Celtic community there?
There is a strong Scottish community here in St. Louis and this is one of our three key events each year. The other two are the Robert Burns Dinner and Tartan Day. These events allow us to celebrate our heritage, introduce new people to everything there is to love about Scotland, and to promote the contributions of the Scottish community in this region.

Why is it an important event for the non-Celtic community there?
This is a great family-friendly event that allows them to experience a culture they may not know, but will quickly come to love. -What are the plans for the event in the years ahead? Our hope is we will continue to grow and be able to reach more and more with the wonders of Scottish culture and further solidify the bond this region has with Scotland. We are always looking for new events and new artists, and hope that for many years to come people will be able to come to Forest Park each fall and take a quick trip into Bonnie Scotland.

Is enough being done to preserve and promote Celtic culture?
St. Louis is a great place for Scottish culture. With events year round, educational outreach and many charitable organizations with a Scottish flavor, the Scottish culture is definitely being promoted and preserved here. But, we can always do more.

What can we be doing better?
We can all work together to promote the culture we all love. Scotland is bigger than any one organization, or any one person. We have a common goal. We should always strive to link arms across the community and work together to show people how much we love and appreciate Scotland, and why they should too.