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The Scottish Connection

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.

Scottish Culture
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.