Scotfest | Oklahoma is an authentic celebration of Scottish and Celtic culture, primarily modeled after the 178 year old Lonach Gathering, Scotland and the 189 year old Braemar Gathering, Scotland.
The 100% volunteer team at Scotfest, Inc., a 501(c)3 public charity organization with a mission to produce a celebration of Scottish and Celtic culture which will benefit Green Country.
Scotfest, Inc are very proud supporters of the Northeastern State University Foundation, providing need and merit based scholarships to students who do well in academics, leadership, community services and other areas. Additionally, Scotfest, Inc are extremely proud to support our Veterans associations including Folds of Honor, Soldier’s Wish, the Royal British Legion and the Scottish American Military Society. The festival is always held on the third weekend in September in the Broken Arrow Events Complex and celebrates its 41st year in 2020.
highland & irish dance
culture & heritage
scotfest: culture: Uniting and enriching our communities through Celtic arts, education and entertainment.
OUR VISION: SCOTFEST will be a nationally recognized, financially sustainable premier Celtic music festival and highland games that embraces, celebrates, shares and educates culture through artistic expression, community engagement, collaboration and leadership that intentionally integrates education and performance.
OUR CORE VALUES: SCOTFEST believes the Celtic arts revitalize people and communities, and is dedicated to the preservation of cultural heritage and its continued growth and development.
SCOTFEST encourages communities to share their cultural arts, believing that interaction with new audiences enriches the community as much as the audience. When people share aspects of their culture, opportunities are created to dissolve misunderstandings, break down stereotypes and increase respect for one another.
SCOTFEST actively cultivates a wide range of community partnerships by encouraging artistic collaboration, teamwork and volunteerism and provides access with affordable ticket prices.
SCOTFEST encourages the active participation by all ages, and in particular youth in fun, healthy and uniquely cultural physical activities that can help develop positive attributes including healthier lifestyles, self-esteem, fair play and good citizenship.
Presenting nationally known Celtic bands, Scottish World Championship athletics, National Championship Pipes & Drums, competitive Highland dance, European food & beverages, arts and crafts and fun activities for the entire family, this Oklahoma tradition is in its 42nd year and features great music on multiple stages, and thousands of your friends together at one place.
A Scottish History in
It may surprise you to discover that the Scottish people have a lengthy history in Oklahoma that is deeply intertwined with the Native American people who inhabited “Indian Territory” before Oklahoma achieved statehood. Scottish immigrants had established a pattern of marrying Native American women in the southeast prior to the beginning of forced Native migration, so it was not uncommon for tribal leaders to have Scottish surnames, such as McIntosh or McCurtain. As Scottish immigrants and their Native American wives and mixed-blood families moved west, many settled in what is now Oklahoma.
Scottish immigrants and Scottish-Native American men worked as trappers, explorers, soldiers, and traders in the southeast, but after moving west, they began participating in mining activities, ranching, and farming. By the 1920’s, 1,120 first-generation Scottish immigrants were living in Oklahoma, while an additional 3,819 people with one or both parents born in Scotland were also living in the state.
Why did Scottish men and Native American women partner so frequently?
Besides the financial incentives that came from improving trade relationships between tribes and Europeans, the two groups had many things in common. Scottish Highlanders and Native Americans are both indigenous people in their homelands and have an ancestral tribal structure, unlike the British monarchy. The Scottish Highlands provided a harsh physical environment that hardied the Scots, much like what the Native Americans experienced in what would become the United States. Additionally, both understood the frustration and pain that comes from forced subjugation to the British.
Many of the Creek, Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw people who came to Oklahoma in the 1830’s had Scots and Scots-Irish ancestry. Later some tribe members married Scottish immigrants who were seeking land in Oklahoma Territory. As a result, Scottish place-names that dot the state include Afton, Glencoe, and McIntosh County. Although some Scottish men did later leave their Native wives to return back across the Atlantic, many stayed and continued to raise their children in mixed Scottish-Native homes.
Just how intertwined were the Scottish and the Native Americans?
Well, in 1964, the principal chief of the Creek Nation of Oklahoma, who had the last name “McIntosh,” wore full Native regalia, including a headdress, beaded shirt, and moccasins, to the annual gathering of his clan in the Scottish Highlands. Standing there amongst the Scots dressed in kilts, sporrans, and dirks, he talked about his pride in his dual Creek-Scottish ancestry and the intertwining of the two cultures.
Creek Indian Nation
City of Tulsa
State of Oklahoma
Oklahoma State University
Commemorating this ancestry, Oklahoma has multiple tartans registered with the Scottish Tartans Society: the Creek Indian Nation tartan was designed in 1973 by Chief Dode MacKintosh, the City of Tulsa tartan was designed in 1978, the Cherokee tartan was recorded in 1996, the official State of Oklahoma tartan was accepted in 1999 and the Oklahoma State University tartan was entered in 1998. In 2000, 52,030 Oklahoman’s claimed Scottish ancestry and 58,798 claimed Scots-Irish ancestry, as of the 2010 Census the number of Scottish ancestry had increased to over 67,500.
With a name like Scotfest, you’d expect that Green Country’s flagship Scottish festival is strongly tied to Scottish traditions and culture, and you’d be right!
Whether you’ve got Scottish and Celtic history going back generations or you’re simply interested in experiencing something new, Scotfest is the place you’ll want to be in September. Each year, we brainstorm to come up with new creative ideas to make you feel like you’re right in the heart of the Scottish highlands while your feet are on the ground in northeast Oklahoma. Here’s some of what you’ll find when you come to Scotfest.
As we say in Tulsa, “In March you’re Irish, in Oktober you’re German, in September you’re Scottish!” You don’t have to know anything about Scottish and Celtic culture to enjoy the delicious tastes and exciting sights and sounds of Scotfest. Scotfest is designed to provide exposure to Scottish and Celtic culture through the inclusion of as many elements of Scottish heritage as possible, including the opportunity to try traditional Scottish food like haggis, scotch eggs, and Scottish meat pies.
While you fill your belly, you’ll be enjoying the sights and sounds of piping corps and drummers practicing throughout the day in preparation for the American Grade Five Pipe Band Championship, one of the biggest bagpipe competitions in the country. Piping and drumming aren’t the only competitions you’ll find, though!
As part of Scotfests Highland Games, we host national and world championship events each year in homage to the highland games of old, where kings would hold competitions to select the finest athletes for his personal guard and entourage. The games played in the original highland games are still enjoyed today, including the caber toss, hammer throw, stone throw, and weight for distance. You don’t have to be Scottish to compete in and enjoy these events, but you do have to be strong! Scotfest also hosts a social rugby tournament, soccer tournament, the Hurling in the Heartland tournament, and tug-o-war competition throughout the weekend.
Once you’re done cheering your favorite athletes to victory, you can head over to enjoy the competitive Scottish Highland and Irish Dance competitions. Both individuals and teams will dance to Scottish music, including Strathspeys, reels, hornpipes, jigs, and of course, bagpipes. With only four to six steps per dance, you might even be able to learn one and join along!
Modern Scotrock and Celtic music is on display throughout the day, but you’ll really love rocking out at night to the sounds of international performing acts like, Celtica Pipes Rock and Jamie McGeechan, national performers like Wicked Tinkers, Seven Nations, and regional performers like Tullamore, Flowers of Edinburgh, Cleghorn and more! Most bands play several times throughout the weekend, so if you can’t catch them on your first day at the festival, make sure to come back.
Throughout the weekend, you’ll also be able to explore your connection to Scotland by researching your family name. Each year, dozens of Scottish clans attend Scotfest to share their clan history, help you research your heritage, explain family crests, show off the clan tartan, and more. Scottish clans originally formed from all of the people who lived within a chief’s territory and those who proclaimed allegiance to the chief. Over time, as boundaries and leadership changed, clans began to diversify and included people from many different surnames. People who swore allegiance to a certain chief could also become a member of the clan. So whether you’re fresh off the boat from Scotland, aren’t totally sure about your heritage, or don’t have a drop of Scottish blood, you can still find a clan to call your very own at Scotfest.
Strong Ties Between Scotland and the U.S.
One of the main missions of Scotfest is to strengthen ties between Scotland and the United States. It’s no secret that many people in the United States have Scottish and Celtic ancestry. In fact, it is estimated that about 8.3 percent of the total US population is of Scottish descent, while about 10 percent of the population is of Scottish-Irish descent, a total of about 40 million people! By helping those with Scottish heritage, whether long-known or recently discovered, connect with their ancestral home, we help to foster strong ties between Scotland and the United States. Scotfest also improves cultural awareness and enhances understanding of Scottish and Celtic culture. Many people who do not have Scottish or Celtic heritage or who may not have been exposed to traditional elements of the culture in the past. They say that the best way to understand someone is to take a walk in their shoes, but we think there’s no substitute for wearing their kilt.