136th Anniversary Sacramento Valley
Scottish Games & Festival
Yolo County Fairgrounds * Woodland, CA
April 28th and 29th, 2012
Gates open at 9 a.m. both days
Saturday Night Ceilidh – dinner and entertainment start at 5:30 p.m. in the Crown & Thistle Pub and White Heather Stage area. Add to your adventure by planning to go to our Ceildh
Sacramento Valley Scottish Games in Woodland promises to be an epic spectacle
By ELIZABETH KALFSBEEK
Created: 04/25/2012 10:45:45 PM PDT
What do televisions, telephones, car tires and rain coats have in common? They were all invented by a Scot.
The Sacramento Valley Scottish Games & Festival taking place this weekend in Woodland is a celebration of everything Scottish and all are welcome to explore the heritage at the family-friendly event.
Known worldwide as the “Woodland Games,” the 136th Highland festival and gathering will be held at the Yolo County Fairgrounds, 1250 E. Gum Ave., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 28 and 29.
“(The main goal of the Games) is just to keep our Scottish culture thriving,” said Randy Russell, current games manager and former Caledonian Club president. “It’s amazing the accomplishments that Scottish people have contributed to the world despite how small Scotland is.”
A special Saturday night Ceilidh Dinner (a type of Scottish dance) will be held beginning at 5 p.m. in the Crown & Thistle Pub and White Heather Stage area. The all-ages dance and dinner will be catered by Ludy’s Main St. BBQ and features the Prince Charles Pipe Band, followed by musicians Stout Rebellion, Silo Rags, Molly’s Revenge and Wicked Tinkers.
The Scottish Games & Festival in Woodland is one of the top five largest in the nation, and the third oldest in the United States. The festival in Detroit, Mich., is older than the Sacramento Valley’s games by 20 years, making it 156 years old.
History buffs will be excited to witness the royal court of Mary, Queen of Scots channeled through a reenactment guild at the fair.
“(We) have one of the biggest reenactment areas of all the Scottish games,” Russell said. “The costumes are unbelievable. It looks like they came out of a time machine and (the characters) are extremely historically accurate.”
Russell explained that unlike some other venues in which the historical personalities won’t break character, at the Woodland festival the “characters” will answer audience questions about the time period. About 15 guilds will be performing over the weekend, each one specializing in different periods of time in Scotland’s history.
A modern day Scottish Laird, or castle owner, will be on hand in the lecture hall. Don Macrae was born in a castle in Scotland, which he still owns, and will be discussing Scottish history and clan names.
Lecturer Mary Wanlass will speak about Celtic languages.
The Games will of course feature fan favorites like competitive bagpipers, drum majors, athletics, animals, genealogy, festive food and other vendors over the course of the two-day festival.
“Everybody’s favorite is the whiskey tasting,” Russell said.
There will be six single malt whiskies to taste at the “seminars” taking place at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
“There are so many varieties of whiskey in Scotland that we have yet to duplicate brands,” Russell said. “You talk about each one and what flavors you can expect out of it. There is also cheese and crackers to cleanse the palate.”
The Woodland games is the home of the United States Drum Major Championships and reigning U.S. Drum Major champion Brian Wilson – who was awarded a Member of the British Empire Award by Prince Charles in February – will be at the event.
Woodland also holds the record for having the most Scottish animals at one place in the Northern Hemisphere, perhaps in the world. Scottish horses, cattle, dogs – even Scottish cats – will be available to pet and learn about.
“California is 160,000-square-miles,” Russell said. “Scotland is only 30,000-square-miles. It’s not very big, but the diversity in animals is amazing.” Scottish food will be available, of course, from meat pies to fish and chips.
“Haggis gets a bad rap, but we will have haggis,” Russell said.
For the less adventurous, barbecue, crepes and other fair food will be available.
The Sacramento Valley Scottish Games & Festival was held in East Park, now McKinley Park, from 1876 to 1980. It then shifted from Roseville to Dixon before landing in Woodland, where it’s had its home for 15 years.
“(Woodland) is a good fit for us,” Russell said. “The fairgrounds have a lot of trees, it’s really shady. What’s nice about our games is you can see everything with a leisurely walk around the grounds without killing yourself. As long as the fairgrounds are there we’ll probably be there, too.”
So, if you’ve ever wondered what is really worn under a kilt, this weekend’s Highland gathering could be your chance to find out.
Visit saccallie.org for more information.