This was the 24th year for this Festival, which had its start in Kiowa for 13 years. Originally known as the Kiowa Highland Games and Encampment, since the sponsoring organization was a living history group portraying a Civil War regiment of Scots and Irish from New York, The 79th Highlanders. The Festival moved the seven miles from Kiowa to Elizabeth in 2006, locating the event at beautiful Casey Jones Park, in the pine forest on the east edge of town.
The Festival includes Dogs of the British Isles, and Classic Cars of the British Isles they are carefully set apart to avoid chasing each other around. Living History Groups where history comes alive with stories and lessons of skills that are still of some use today, that range from weaving and sewing to traditional combat. For the youngsters there is a wonderful Children’s Glen, that allows them to play and create as their heart desire. Scottish and Irish Clans and organizations where patrons are encouraged to stop by and learn more about the clan and possibly their own past, along with amazing local Celtic music and dance, Merchants of all sorts, local Artisans and Crafter’s, delectable authentic Scottish and Irish food vendors, Their very own local Ice Cream maker, The ever popular Bonny Knees Contests smiles and giggles to everyone, and Rugby matches in which men’s teams and women’s teams showed spectators how to get the job done.
Are traditional sports what you seek? Then the Scottish Heavy Athletics won’t let you down. This includes the caber toss which is a traditional Scottish athletic event in which competitors toss a large tapered pole called a “caber”. In Scotland the caber is usually made from a Larch tree and is typically 19 feet 6 inches (5.94 m) tall and weighs 175 pounds (79 kg). The term “caber” derives from the Gaelic word “cabar” or “kaber” which refers to a wooden beam. The person tossing the caber is called a “tosser” or a “thrower”. It is said to have developed from the need to toss logs across narrow chasms (in order to cross them) or by lumberjacks challenging each other to a small contest, at this festival men and women alike tossed these in the spirit of competition and when you think you seen it all from this event an 83-year-old man was giving everyone a run for their money.
If you are looking for grace and beauty then look no further than the Highland Dance competitions where traditions are kept alive with in the beauty of dance, Solo Bag Piping competitions that stir the heart and maybe a tear from the eye and finally there is the calling of the Clans, this tradition is when at the end of the day each Clan in turn steps out to a fire pit and Announces themselves and tells a little story or recites a poem and most of the time a gentle poke at themselves and the other Clans for things only past really knows. In the end everyone is family and thanks, praises, love, hugs and a whole lot of Scotch is passed around. The Elizabeth Celtic Festival is an inexpensive family event that has something for everyone.
Written/Photography by John Root