70th Fergus Scottish Festival
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While the sound technicians were doing their testing before the tattoo, I had time to go onto the field and take pictures in all directions . . . of my wife sitting, the sound tent, the sponsors' tent, the stage, the entry gate, eyes left and eyes right.
There was a fifteen minute delay to the start of the Pre-Tattoo. It was most unfortunate that the featured singer mumbled his words and forgot the lyrics of "Caledonia", the song of the historic 2009 Gathering of the Clans in Edinburgh. He did slightly better during a practice earlier in the afternoon.
Most spectators were surprised that the tattoo performances would be limited to a space in front of the stage barely one-quarter of the length of the Main Field. On stage, Tommy Leadbeater served as the opening act and Honourary Clan Chief for the Tattoo. Some audience members remarked that he had a more lively act in earlier years when he performed at centre field, where he was able to encourage more participation from the crowd.
Denis Snowden's recorded commentary about the entry of the provinces into the formation of Canada was accompanied by ten flag bearers. This was followed by a salute to the 50th Anniversary of Canada's Flag. The Matheson family loaned the first maple leaf flag to fly on Parliament Hill in 1965 for this occasion. [Although Prime Minister Lester Bowles Pearson was responsible for the drive to produce a Canadian Flag, he actually preferred the three leaves motif which came from the Red Ensign, but added blue (instead of red) at each side.] The tribute was very moving.
The "Massed Bands" were comprised of three local pipe bands (two of which were from Fergus). They appeared awkward and unrehearsed. To be fair, they did not have the full Main Field for their manoeuvers, and they appeared to be enjoying the situation in spite of its limitations. Somebody asked a drummer in the Fergus Pipe Band if he was having fun, to which the drummer laughed as he turned to march back towards the stage. Another person remarked that they enjoyed being up close to the bands; one could even hear questions from band members who sought clarification on various points about the performance.
A Massed Fling was performed by Hamilton's Schiehallion Dance ensemble joined by several young ladies from the dance competitions. Festival organizers saved on the lighting expenses of previous years, and darkness followed quite quickly. The usual candle-lighting ceremony appeared to be a casualty, but the gathering of clan representatives to deposit their torches provided a suitable ending before the intermission. Since we had heard the practices by the Red Hot Chilli Pepers from Scotland, we left early. [They were loud enough to be heard from the B&B several blocks away where we were staying during the festival. Ditto for the fireworks, which were supplied by David Whysall who lived nearby.]
AVENUE OF THE CLANS
There were thirty-five Clan tents this year plus one for the St. Andrew Society and one for the Information Tent. This included a fair number of Clan representatives who said that they had never attended the Fergus Scottish Festival before. Among the regulars, I counted six who were also members of the Scottish Studies Foundation. In the first photo below, a highly respected past-director of the Scottish Studies Foundation, Duncan Campbell, was present once again at the Clan Campbell tent. [Please don't tell anyone from Clan MacDonald.]
Clan McCann registered for the festival, but failed to show up on Saturday morning. Clans MacDowell/MacDougall, Maxwell and Murray had not registered in time to be printed in the program booklet. It may have appeared that there was a shortage of Clans this year, but perhaps this was due to the smaller space allotted to the tents on the Avenue of the Clans.
Other photos were taken at the Clan Ross tent. My cousin, Lloyd Ross, lives in Fergus and keeps me informed about relatives in the Wellington area. Our past-president of Clan Ross Canada (Andy Thibodeau) took the picture of Mary Ann Mulnar, Rob Ross (newsletter editor and 2nd vice-president of Clan Ross Canada), Patricia Ross (past newsletter editor of Clan Ross Canada) and Doug Ross (past webmaster for Clan Ross Canada). Andy also took several photos of members of the Clan Ross family, who visited the Clan Ross tent.
CLAN PASSPORT BOOKLETS
Clan Ross was the featured Clan at the 2010 Festival during the 50th Anniversary of our Founding. The Clan Passport booklets were introduced in this year.
On the occasion of the 6th anniversary of the introduction of Clan Passport booklets sponsored by the Scottish Studies Foundation, what better tribute could there be than to present some of our favourite photos for each year . . . 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 followed by my friend Alastair McIntyre's pictures of the cover and contents.
During 2010, 2011 and 2012, we attended the Highlands of Durham Scottish Games and visited the tents of Clans MacKenzie, MacLeod, Campbell, Menzies, Johnston/e, Wallace, Maxwell, MacLellan, MacNeil. Nichol/MacNichol, Farquharson, Keith, Macpherson, Douglas, Cameron, Graham, Donnachaid, MacDouglall and Gregor, as well as the CASSOC representatives. We reminded them about the Fergus Clan Passport and gave them a heads-up about clan crest stamps.
Please CLICK HERE for the 2010 Durham Scottish Games.
Please CLICK HERE for the 2011 Durham Scottish Games.
Please CLICK HERE for the 2012 Durham Scottish Games.
The Clan Passport Booklet has a space for the owner to print his/her name on the 2nd page. We expect the children to treasure the booklets during future years. Unlike other handouts, we have never seen a single booklet tossed away on the festival grounds.
Alastair McIntyre, owner of the Electric Scotland website, took the pictures of the Clan Passport cover and contents above. He had a single question: "Do you have any thoughts on what all this achieved?"
I believe that one of the chief goals, is the preservation of Scottish cultural heritage. It gives youngsters an opportunity to learn about the concept of Clans. If the enjoyment of the children is an indicator, then the program has been a success every year. There are also some side benefits for the parents and grandparents who accompany the children. The Scottish Studies Foundation thanks all of its supporters. That said, Alastair's final observation was that the Clan Passport was probably the best project sponsored by the Foundation.
CLICK below for a 2011 video of the Fergus Scottish Festival by Chris Seto, Guelph Mercury staff reporter/photographer!
OOT AND ABOOT
Beginning in or near the Heritage Tent, we saw spinning and weaving, rag rug making, poppy making, quilt making, calligraphy, sheep shearing, rope making and blacksmithing.
Further afield, individuals were learning the difference between the one step Braemar Caber Toss and the Running Caber Toss. They actually practised the latter if they intended to join the pros in an attempt to break the Guiness World Record. The competitions for Scottish Dancing were held in a tent this year. A purple mascot roamed the grounds wherever there were children. Drummers and pipers seemed to be practising continuously during the weekend.
CLICK HERE for the Guinness World Record with 51 caber tosses on August 8, 2015, on You Tube (with a few other highlights).
Pat and I enjoyed our stay with Deb and Rich Schlieker at their B&B this year, thanks to cousin Lloyd Ross of Fergus for helping to make the arrangement. Rich tried valiently to get "Fergie", their purebred Spaniel to pose for a photo.
We had stayed at the Stonehurst Bed and Breakfast in 2001, when it was managed by Johanna and Peter Weissenborn. [See photo below.] They sold it to the Schliekers in October of 2004. Many changes have taken place since then.