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ScotsFest 2012 starts Saturday

The two-day celebration of hallmarks of Scottish culture, complete with kilts, whisky, bagpipes and caber hurlers, will take place at the OC Fairgrounds.

May 24, 2012|By Candice Baker
  • A mass of bagpipers makes their entrance at a previous ScotsFest.
A mass of bagpipers makes their entrance at a previous… (Courtesy ScotsFest,…)

Locals don't need to go see "The Avengers" this weekend to watch telephone poles get chucked end-over-end, or see 300 pounds of weight carried with ease.

The real-life version will be in Costa Mesa, at the annual ScotsFest — a tribute to all things Scottish, and celebrated by thousands who are (or wish they were) Caledonian.

An opening ceremony featuring a mass of Scottish bands will begin at noon Saturday; closing ceremonies will be held both days starting at 5 p.m. In honor of Memorial Day, a memorial service honoring veterans is slated for 10 a.m. Sunday.

A daily Gathering of the Clans at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and 11:15 a.m. Sunday will feature a grand procession of the 70 participating clans. (Those who aren't Scottish can join Clan Inebriated, who are always happy to welcome new members.)

A favorite element of any Highland Games conclave is the heavy athletic games themselves, which include the caber toss; throwing the weight; the farmers' walk; putting the stone; and the hammer throw. The caber toss is perhaps the most famous; it requires competitors (including women) to lift a massive caber, similar to a telephone pole, and to toss it end-over-end, with the goal to have the caber land in a 12-o'clock position directly in front of the tosser. (Points aren't assigned for distance tossed, as is commonly thought, but for the proximity the pole lands to the 12-o'clock position; points are deducted for every degree off the mark.)

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In throwing the weight, a 28-pound weight is thrown for distance, while a 56-pound weight is thrown for distance and height. In the farmers' walk, competitors pick up two 150-pound weights and try to walk as far as possible with them. Putting the stone originated from clansmen testing their prowess by tossing a large stone that was kept in front of their chieftain's castle; at ScotsFest, competitors will toss a 16-pound stone like a shot put, and a 22-pound stone that is tossed from a stationery position. The 16- and 22-pound hammer throws are done with an overhead twirl maneuver.

A quick sell-out each year is the on-site whisky tasting seminars, where whisky expert Chris Uhde guides tasters through $530 worth of samples of Scotch whiskies aged for three to more than 20 years, for a $30 fee. Udhe concurrently will instruct about the whisky-producing regions of Scotland and share the history of the Scotch making process.

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