When spring hits the Florida Panhandle, we often get invaded by college students looking for some warm days on the beach and hot nights in the clubs, like La Vela, Spinnaker,and Sharky’s. Another group that invades the area are the Scots and their kin that love to show off their island culture at many of the Highland games that start their national tours in Florida. This past week, Cleave and I were able to go to two events celebrating Celtic heritage, one, in Panama City Beach, was the Celtic Heritage Alliance’s 25th Annual Panama City Scottish Festival and Highland Games.
This was a fun time not only featuring really big dudes in kilts throwing hammers, stones, and cabers, but lots of Clan information centers, vendors setting all kinds of bonnets, kilt pins, and Scottish fashions, and some caterers featuring foods like Scotch Eggs and Rumbledethumps. There was even rugby!
Not only was their shopping, games and great food, there were classic British cars by BBC- Bay British Cars, which featuring many a motorcar we might have seen in Cold War period James Bond films, an music filled the air from The Tinkers, Seven Nations, and The Blarney Girls. Along with this, was a ren faire with the lords and ladies from SCA and LARP, belly dancers, psychics and artists. We did not stay long enough to join in the ceildh- a huge party after the main games, as we were sunburned and a bit worn out, but as luck would have it, a little slice of Scotland came to Chipley later in the week.
Last night, at our public library, a one man concert featuring Matthew Gurnsey –The Kilted Man took place, and he sang many fun songs from the Isles, and told some silly and bad jokes, played on mandolin, psaltrey, boudhrun, and other light percussion in a great two hour show. There was many only thirty of us there, so it was a cozy gathering, but much fun, and he will be playing the Panama City festival next year. A long way road to success for a lad from the Orkneys!
The Scots aren’t done with us yet, as next week, they will move north into Alabama as the Twisted Kilt Society brings us Southeast Alabama Highland Games and Scottish Heritage Festival. As this is only their second time at this, the gather will a bit smaller, but most likely just as much fun as the other, and I’ll get to see Cleave’s kilt swinging about again, along with many other brave dudes who wear their colours. It is going to be even more fun on the weekend of St. Patricks Day, so bring on the ale and bake some scones. The fun is just starting!