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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

He is the whisky expert at the Daily Pint in Santa Monica, famed for its Scotch selection. The seminars are given daily at 1 and 3 p.m., and each class will feature a different selection; get tickets early at the onsite Whisky Tavern.

The new Alex Beaton Stage will be dedicated at 1 p.m. Saturday; it pays tribute to a beloved fixture at ScotsFest, musician Alex Beaton, who has performed at the festival for about 30 years. He suffered a debilitating spinal cord injury last summer, and now faces massive medical expenses. Donations can be made at alexbeaton.com.

Live entertainment will include some of the top names in Celtic folk, rock and comedy, with acts like Sligo Rags, Bad Haggis, Tempest, Highland Way, Brother, the Ploughboys, Neil O'Neil, Those Manning Boys, Christopher Yates, the Raggle-Taggle Harpers, the Granada Hills Highlander Band, the 1st Marine Division Band from Camp Pendleton, and country dancers and fiddlers.

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A popular attraction each year is the variety of piping and drumming competitions, in which pipe bands that consist of pipers, bass drummers, snare drummers and tenor drummers are assigned into four grades of ability and compete by playing tunes like marches, Strathspeys and reels. Solo competitors also will strive for awards.

Attendees also will enjoy performances of traditional dances like the Highland Fling and the Seann Truibhas, which mimics the action of a Highlander trying to remove his trews, or breeches, in order to put his kilt back on.

The popular Ghillie Calum, or Sword Dance, is said to have originated with the victory of King Malcolm over Macbeth at the battle of Dunsinane in 1054. The dancers strive to avoid touching swords placed on the ground, which they dance around.

Group dances also are on the schedule, like the Strathspey, Highland Reel, Half Tulloch, Irish Jig and Sailer's Hornpipe, as well as the many Scottish national dances like the Flora MacDonald's Fancy, named after the woman who harbored the ill-fated French "Bonnie Prince Charlie," the pretender to the throne of Scotland, in the 18th century.

There also will be plenty of kids' activities, like free fun slides and athletic events, and archery for both kids and adults for a nominal fee.

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