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Scottish Festival draws a crowd in Payson

By Rena Lesue-Smithey - Correspondent - | Jul 15, 2012
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Dean Thomas, with his grandson, Alex Gardner, 8, by his side, talks to visitors about how to identify the clan their ancestors belonged to at the Payson Scottish Festival on Saturday, July 14, 2012. Representatives from more than 30 Scottish clans were registered to attended the festival. SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald

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Jeff Turner, of Salt Lake City, participates in the weight throw event of the Highland Games at the Payson Scottish Festival on Saturday, July 14, 2012. SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald

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Dancers from Harp Irish Dance Company, a studio based in American Fork and Payson, wait out the rain at the Payson Scottish Festival on Saturday, July 14, 2012. SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald

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Dancers from Harp Irish Dance Company, a studio based in American Fork and Payson, perform at the Payson Scottish Festival on Saturday, July 14, 2012. SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald

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Spectators watch athletes compete in the Highland Games at the Payson Scottish Festival on Saturday, July 14, 2012. SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald

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Pipers play at the ceremonial opening of the Payson Scottish Festival on Saturday, July 14, 2012. SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald

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Spectators watch an athlete compete in the weight-over-bar event of the Highland Games at the Payson Scottish Festival on Saturday, July 14, 2012. SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald

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Maleena Barnes, of Spanish Fork, carves a design into leather at the Payson Scottish Festival on Saturday, July 14, 2012. SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald

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Ryan Hudson, 19, of the Wasatch and District Pipe Band, practices his drum routines in the rain at the Payson Scottish Festival on Saturday, July 14, 2012. SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald

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Maleena Barnes, of Spanish Fork, carves a design into leather at the Payson Scottish Festival on Saturday, July 14, 2012. SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald

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Rose Freytag, her grandson, Peni Tukuafu, and her dog, Lady, sit by the side of a pond and eat kettle corn as rain starts to fall at the Payson Scottish Festival on Saturday, July 14, 2012. SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald

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Dancers from Harp Irish Dance Company, a studio based in American Fork and Payson, perform at the Payson Scottish Festival on Saturday, July 14, 2012. SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald

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Dancers from Harp Irish Dance Company, a studio based in American Fork and Payson, perform at the Payson Scottish Festival on Saturday, July 14, 2012. SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald

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Highland Games Chieftain Mike Findlay, of the clan Farquharson, lets Bob Carter, left, of Payson, take a look at the staff given to each year's chieftain at the Payson Scottish Festival on Saturday, July 14, 2012. SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald

PAYSON — Payson hosted the 29th Annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games at Memorial Park Friday and Saturday. The festival is a free, family-friendly event that celebrates Scottish heritage and clan unity.

The Scottish Festival kicked off with a celebration called Ceilidh Friday night. Entertainment included performances by Alex Bigney, An Dragan Celteach, and David Brewer and Rebecca Lomicky. Traditional Scottish food, costume, jewelry, weaponry and clan booths were available for patrons throughout the weekend.

Saturday’s events began with the Scottish Sprint, 5K run/walk, sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America, followed by a parade.

Texas resident Sarah Morris, who was in town visiting family, brought her two kids and mother to the event on Saturday.

“My favorite part of the festival was either the sheaf toss or the bagpipe parade. I liked seeing everyone in Scottish clothing. Our family is from Clan Campbell, and it was cool finding out which plaid represented our heritage. Also, the food was excellent. The blueberry Welsh cakes were delicious,” Morris said.

After the parade, physical and musical competitions began and continued throughout the day. A Highland dance competition was held with dancers of all ages participating in Scottish folk dances like the Highland fling and the sword dance. Others performed Irish dances. Both male and female athletes participated at the stone puts, sheaf toss, caber toss and hammer competitions.

According to the Scottish Days website, “The athletic competition is a continuation of the ancient Celtic competitions that were once used to determine both status in the clan, and leadership positions both on and off the field of battle.”

Class A Highland athlete Scott Farr of Clan McFarlane holds the world record in stone put, a Scottish version of the shot put. Nineteen-year-old Farr started competing in Highland games four years ago with his brother Eric. Though he lives in Logan, this was Farr’s second year at the Payson Scottish Festival. Farr pitched a Braemar stone more than 36 feet when he took the world record.

“These festivals are a blast. The crowd is always really involved. It’s just a blast to come to these events,” said Farr.

Though the rain drizzled most of the morning on Saturday, the crowds and athletes weren’t deterred. Originally from Hurricane, Brandon Lewis of Clan McLeod took first place in the hammer. The objective of the hammer throw is to throw a 22-pound weight attached to a 4-foot pole at competitive distances.

“The Highland games are a major attraction. I have a couple of tents here where the family came out to support me,” said Lewis, 30. “It’s a fun atmosphere and learning about heritage is always fun.”

Children in attendance also enjoyed face-painting and crown decorating. Kids could design a coat of arms and learn about their clan culture.

The Payson Scottish Festival is run by volunteers with the help of Payson City. If interesting in attending or helping next year, go to paysonscottishfestival.org.

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