It may not be the misty highlands of Scotland, but this spring in the foothills of Tennessee, you'll find hundreds of Scotsmen and women gathered together for a celebration of shared heritage and history. A weekend filled with traditional dancing, music, and food kicks off May 16, 2014. Whether you can trace your ancestors back to the first Clans or you simply enjoy a good hammer throwing competition, you'll want to make the trek to this year's Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival.
Show Off Your Athletic Ability
One of the most popular attractions at the festival is the games. Centuries ago, Scotsmen competed in rigorous challenges as a way of improving the military strength of the region. Today the games are purely for sport, but the athletic ability on display is certainly worth watching. Hammer throwing, stone put, and wrestling are just a few of the featured events. Think you've got what it takes? Grab your hammer and join in the fun.
Music lovers won't want to miss the happenings on the dance stage. Traditionally performed by men but now enjoyed by women as well, Scottish Highland Dancing is another premier attraction at the festival. With colorful costumes and strength and agility that comes only from years of practice, these talented performers are a must-see for anyone who enjoys dance. There's even a workshop for those who want to hone their own skills.
More than Just Bagpipes and Kilts
While we all love a tartan-clad bagpiper, there's a lot more to pique your interest at this year's Scottish Festival. Kids especially will enjoy the trip, with face painting and a play area just for the little ones. Games and other activities – some of which even include the parents – are also available.
History buffs and animal lovers will want to be sure to catch the sheepherding demonstrations. For centuries, the borderlands between Scotland and England have been home to shepherds and their flocks, and along with them, their faithful dogs. The Scotch Sheep Dog (now known as the Border Collie) has an uncanny ability to respond to his master's signal to keep his sheep safe, and it's truly magnificent to watch as handler and dog work together.
Got a pup of your own? Bring him along for the dog parade and talent show, where talented pooches and their owners show off their best tricks. It's pure entertainment, so expect lots of laughs and plenty of good-natured fun as ribbons are awarded for floppiest ears, longest tail, and more.
You don't have to put on a kilt to enjoy a weekend of music and games. At the Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival, you and the family will find plenty of fun regardless of your ancestry. Combine that with the other area attractions and it's easy to see why a trip to Gatlinburg this May makes a great start to the summer vacation season.
Jon Hoffman is Reservations Manager of Volunteer Cabin Rentals specializing in Smoky Mountain rental cabins in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN. Visit them today at http://www.volunteercabinrentals.com to book cabins for weddings, vacations, reunions and other special events.