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Minden celebrates Scottish heritage

by Amber McDown

The 2023 Scottish Tartan Festival had a great turnout this weekend, attracting visitors from all around this area and even some from out of state. The festival, which is in its 21st year, was held in downtown Minden for the first time. 

Music and dancing could be found throughout the day at the various stages which were set up in and around Millers Quarters. The festival also delivered genealogy information as well as displays of combat, blacksmithing, flint knapping, and more. There were also a number of competitions available to participate in or just enjoy watching as an audience.

Red River Pipes & Drums
March of the Clans
Flint knapping
Combat display

Many of the dogs that turned out for the dog show were decked out in tartans and tams. The dog show featured two categories: Scottish breeds and all breeds. In the Scottish breeds category Clyde, a 3 year old Scottie, won 1st place; Yazhi, an almost 13 year old Border collie, won 2nd place; and Nova, a 9 year old red merle coated Border collie, won 3rd place. In the All Breeds category, Charlie, a 12 year old Yorkie, won 1st place; Mojo, a 3 year old German shepherd mix, won 2nd place; and Jax, a 7 year old Labradoodle, won 3rd place.

Scottish Breeds
All Breeds

The haggis eating contest always draws a big crowd. Haggis, according the the Encyclopedia Britannica is “the national dish of Scotland, a type of pudding composed of the liver, heart, and lungs of a sheep (or other animal), minced and mixed with beef or mutton suet and oatmeal and seasoned with onion, cayenne pepper, and other spices. The mixture is packed into a sheep’s stomach and boiled.” The announcer for this competition declared, “This is some of the best haggis I’ve ever eaten.” The winner of the haggis eating contest was Trey Campbell who finished in just 37.66 seconds. 

Haggis eating contest

The Bonniest Knees competition is also a traditional crowd favorite. In this competition, a woman is selected to judge how bonny, or attractive, the knees of the competitors are. The men must be wearing kilts, and the judge is blindfolded and must assess their knees by touch. This year, Johnnye Kennon of the Webster Parish Convention & Visitors Commission was selected to judge. After caressing the knees of the 11 contestants, the final winner was chosen: Gabriel Mateo of Mooringsport, Louisiana. 

Bonniest knees competition

This year the Scottish Tartan Festival added Highland Games to the event. Based on the crowd response, the games will probably become bigger and more competitive over time. The games started with the stone put, shot putting a 22 lbs stone. Nathan Sunter won that competition. Next, they did the heavy weight for distance, throwing a metal ball on a chain which weighed around 40 lbs. This was won by Dalton Cate. Then the stone chuck, chucking a more than 30 lb stone freestyle, was won by Nathan Sunter. After that, they competed in the caber toss, throwing a pole that was around 15 feet long and close to 100 lbs. This was won by Sam Haynie. And the final individual competition was the weight over bar, where they stood under a bar that started out 9 feet in height and threw a 42 lb weight over it backwards. The bar was raised after each round. The winning contestant, Dalton Cate, was able to get his final throw over a 12-foot high bar. The games finished up with a tug-of-war between the competitors. If you’re interested in participating in Highland Games, check out the instructor’s website at https://backyardrebellion.com

Shot put
Heavy weight for distance
Caber toss
Weight over bar
Completing competitors with instructor

The Scottish Tartan Festival is presented by the Scottish Society of the Louisiana Highland to “commemorate the rich culture of our Celtic ancestors who came to this country in decades past.” For more information about this society, see their website:  https://www.louisianahighlands.scot.

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