Gathering Events and Attractions

Clan Tents and Scottish Vendors

Enjoy the many Clan Tents from all over the country as well as an array of Scottish and Celtic Curio vendors, Food, and Music.

Scottish Athletic Events

Tossing the Caber The origin of this most traditional of all Scottish athletic events is obscure, even though records of its existence (“ye tossing of ye bar”) date back to the 16th Century and may have begun as a military discipline to breach fortifications. The object  is to toss the 100 to 200 pound, 18-19 foot long caber, end-over-end so that it lands with the bottom of the small end pointing away from the contestant.  The athlete with the straightest toss is the winner.  Distance has no bearing.  Contestants have 3 tries.

Weight Toss & Weight Throw
These events involve rounds using two metal weights, one of 28 pounds and the other 56 pounds thrown for distance, with the 56 lb weight also thrown for height.  The weights are traditionally block or bell-shaped with a curved or angular grip on a short chain.

Hammer Throw
The hammer throw became popular in the Scottish Highlands as a pastime among strong, young men who gathered in the late afternoon at the local blacksmith shop.  There, the smith’s long-handled 22-pound hammer was thrown to prove one’s strength and agility.  The official weight of the present day hammer is 22 pounds.  The contestant is given three throws and is scored on the greatest distance achieved.

Tossing the Sheaf
In this contest, a 16-pound sheaf of hay, enclosed in a burlap bag, is tossed by pitch fork over a free swinging, horizontal bar.  The athletes have three opportunities to toss the sheaf at each height of the bar, which is raised at 6-inch intervals until all contestants, but one are eliminated.

Putting the Stone or Stone Toss
The event, known in Gaelic as “Clachneart,” is another test of strength and coordination common to Scottish games.  Thought to be related to if not derived from the ancient, “stone of strength,” the manly art has a history as old as Scotland itself.  The stone weighs about 16 pounds and is 7 ¾ inches in diameter.  It is thrown much like the modern shot put.  Judging is on the longest of the three throws only.

Highland Dancing (Not to be held this year due to COVID restrictions)

Highland Dancing was once an athletic event.  Many were solo dances of the Highland men and are so vigorous that one must be in top physical shape to perform them.

Highland Fling
The oldest of the traditional dances of Scotland is the Highland Fling.  This is believed to be a dance of victory in battle.  The dancer performed with a Scottish shield, called a “Targe.”  Since the Targe contained a sharp spike extending out of the center, the dancer had to be very careful in the execution of his steps.

This is also considered one of the National dances and the competitors wear the dress of the Royal Navy.  It depicts the sailors in their daily lives on board ship.

Sword Dance
The Sword Dance (Ghillie Callum) is thought to be the oldest of the Scottish dances.  Sword and scabbard were placed on the ground in the form of a cross and if the dancer’s feet managed to avoid touching either one, it was believed the clan would be blessed with good fortune in the coming battle.  If the sword or scabbard were disarranged, the prediction was defeat.  In the modern dance, the top sword is in direct line front to back, with the hilt towards the dance.  The slip in footwork, formerly interpreted as an evil omen, now provides one of the principal methods of eliminating contestants.

Seann Triubhas (pronounced Shawn Trues)
Many of the steps in this dance are intended to express the Scotsman’s displeasure for the old law which at one time forbade the wearing of kilts.  Literally translated Seann Triubhas means “old trews,” or old trousers.  The name is a derisive reference to the law enforced after the unsuccessful Rebellions of 1745 in support of Bonnie Prince Charlie when kilts, were forbidden.  Many of the steps of the dance were intended to indicate the Scotsman’s efforts to “kick off the trews.”

Piping and Drumming

In recent years, the Lilt has been performed both in this country and in Scotland.  The dress is different from the kilt worn in the Highland Games.  The girls wear what is called the Aboyne Dress, named for the Aboyne Highland Games in Scotland where it is forbidden for women to wear the kilt.  This dance are very graceful in appearance.

The Piobaireachd

The Piobaireachd is the classic music of the great Highland bagpipe.  It can be mournful or exultant, but it always has a spirit of grandeur which accords with the wild mountains and dark glens.  This is the “Great Music” that is used to welcome the chief’s new heir into the world or to mourn the passing of a warrior.

The Individual Drumming
The judge is considering the introductory rolls, tone of drum, tempo, execution, rhythm and expression of quality and variety of beatings.  Drumming contestants are always accompanied by one or two pipers

Individual Piping
When watching these events, remember that the judge is considering the tone and tuning of the bagpipes being played.  Timing, expression and execution of the movements required in the tune are most important.

The name Tattoo is used to describe a musical interlude of invitation and responses between military and pipe bands. The word ‘tattoo’ comes from the closing-time cry in the inns in the Low Countries during the 17th and 18th centuries – ‘Doe den tap toe’ (‘Turn off the taps’). Our event is usually a concert of some of the best entertainment in our festival.  It usually begins and ends with the playing of a lone piper.

Lots of Other Events

Other events which take place at the Gathering include a formal Tartan Dinner, the Kirking of the Tartan church services on Sunday, the Children’s Athletic Games and a Dog Show on Sunday.  And don’t forget that there will be vendors selling Celtic items, food and artwork each day on the festival grounds!