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Scottish Tartan Festival draws crowds despite stormy weather

by Amber McDown

The Scottish Tartan Festival in downtown Minden on April 20 faced bands of thunderstorms, but attendees were undeterred by the rain and cold. Although heavy rain forced the outdoor stage to shut down, performances seamlessly moved into the Civic Center. Even the Highland Games paused briefly for the worst of the weather before the tough competitors completed the contest in the pouring rain.

Fortunately, the dog show concluded before the rain intensified. In the Scottish Breeds division, Rue, a Border Collie, and Sadie, a West Highland Terrier, took 1st and 2nd place respectively. The All Breeds division saw Gizmo, an Australian Cattle Dog / Pitbull mix, clinching 1st place, followed by Lollipop, a Yorkie mix, in 2nd place, Rudy, a Yorkie-poo, in 3rd place, and Bug-in-a-Rug, a mixed breed, in 4th place.

Trey Campbell secured his third consecutive victory in the haggis eating contest, devouring one pound of haggis in 29.93 seconds. The Bonniest Knees competition was canceled in order to adjust the stage schedule.

The festival’s large crowd was entertained by various performers, including Ally the Piper, The Rogues, Dead Reckoning String Band, the Gems Dance Company, the Thistle Dancers & Pipers, the Jackson Irish Dancers, and harpist Miriam Bennett. Attendees also witnessed a traditional handfasting, a Highland wedding tradition, along with storytellers, blacksmiths, birds of prey, and medieval combat demonstrations.

“Although the weather was not the best we could have hoped for, by moving several events indoors,  attendees were still able to enjoy some fabulous dancers, our young harpist, the clan tents and much more,” said Sheila Hoh of the Scottish Society of Louisiana Highlands. “The crowd really loved Ally the Piper. Everyone appeared to have a great time. We’ve had nothing but positive feedback in spite of the weather conditions.”

In the Highland Games, celebrating its second year at the festival, a good-sized group competed, including both seasoned travelers and local newcomers. Nathan McKnight claimed 1st place with 11.5 points, with Zach Taylor securing 2nd place with 12 points, and Brady Simmons taking 3rd place with 18 points.

Despite the challenging weather, the Scottish Tartan Festival attendees and participants embraced the festival’s traditions and festivities. From the lively performances to the competitive games and unique showcases, the event once again proved to be a highlight of the local calendar, bringing people together to celebrate Scottish culture and heritage in a memorable and enjoyable way.

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