Thursday, April 15, 2010

Want a taste of Scotland?

It’s a celebration of Scottish heritage, first and foremost. But whether or not you’re Scottish, this weekend’s Rural Hill Scottish Festival & Loch Norman Highland Games make for plenty of good, clean, fun people-watching.

Among the more interesting people to watch if you’re heading up to the 17th annual event, which takes place on 100 acres of historic land in Huntersville, just south of Lake Norman:

Any of the professional or amateur athletes participating in the heavy athletics competitions. “The one that people remember most is the caber, which is like tossing a telephone pole,” says Ed McLean, executive director of the Catawba Valley Scottish Society. “They have to flip it end over end, then it is judged by how close it comes to landing at 12 o’clock. That’s a lot of weight to control. … These guys generally weigh in the 320, 330, 350 range – they’re big boys.” Most of the heavy athletics will take place on Saturday.

The members of the Massed Pipe Band, a show-stopping display of about 420 pipers and drummers playing in unison. Noon on Saturday and Sunday. Over the course of the weekend, spectators can see 22 piping and drumming bands; more than 100 individual pipers and drummers will be judged in a competition that takes place Saturday.

People in traditional dress. “You’ll see lots of kilts, and lots of ladies in tartan. There’ll be a lot of pretty tartan dresses,” McLean says. “The men who do the heavy athletics, they’re all kilted.”

The festival also will offer plenty of chances to eat and drink like a Scot.

In addition to cups of Scottish ale for those 21 and older, there’ll be delicacies including Scottish eggs (shelled hard-boiled eggs wrapped in a sausage mixture); Scottish shortbread; and haggis, which contains sheep’s heart, liver and lungs and simmered in its stomach.

Is your mouth watering yet? Then I’ll see you there.

The event opens today and runs various hours through Sunday. Rural Hill is at 4431 Neck Road in Huntersville. For details, an event schedule, and ticket prices ($3-$20), visit or call 704-875-3113.