A festival of Scots, kilts

Costa Mesa's annual ScotsFest celebrates Scottish and Celtic heritage with music, dance this weekend.

May 28, 2010|By Candice Baker

Aguid few (a good many) scallywags (mischief seekers) from throughout the Southland will be fidgin fain (restless with anticipation) until Saturday, when they will get off their bahookies (backsides) in droves to byde a wee (spend some time) at the pure dead brilliant (excellent) annual ScotsFest in Costa Mesa.

Put on by the United Scottish Society of Southern California in order to promote Scottish and Celtic cultural traditions, the festival draws more than 15,000 people to the Orange County Fairgrounds for two days of bagpipe music, caber tossing and the Ghillie Callum (Sword Dance).

Society Chieftain Tom Reoch said this year's pipe band competition will feature the most bands in the festival's history, with 23 bands competing and performing, including six from Canada. Two of the Canadian bands, along with the LA Scots band, are elite Grade 1 competitors — "the NBA of bagpipes," Reoch said. The Orange County-based LA Scots are one of less than a handful of top-tier pipers in the country.


The opening ceremony at noon Saturday and closing ceremonies at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday will include hundreds of pipers performing simultaneously

Along with traditional Scottish music, Celtic bands also will be on hand; this year's four entertainment stages will include Celtic rock and punk bands as well as harpists and fiddlers. Top names include the Ploughboys, Alex Beaton, Banshee in the Kitchen, the Wicked Tinkers, Sligo Rags and Molly's Revenge, among others.

"We have a lot of bands based in the local area. Almost all of the dancers are based in the Southern California area, as well," Reoch said.

The Highland Dancing Western Regional Championship will include dances like the Highland Fling, Seann Truibhas, the Reel of Tulloch, Irish Jig (modified by the Scots to lovingly mock their Celtic brothers), Sailor's Hornpipe and national dances like Flora MacDonald's Fancy.

Activities for kids will include archery (offered for adults as well), slides and kids' athletic competitions like the sack race.

A major draw for crowds is the heavy athletics displays. This year, the event is hosting the National Athletic Championship, and will draw some of the best athletes competing in North America in events like the caber toss, throwing the weight, the farmer's walk, putting the stone and the hammer throw.

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