For 10 years, The United Scottish Clans of Oklahoma have put on the biggest Scottish party in Central Oklahoma. Nestled at the Kirkpatrick Family Farm in Yukon, the Iron Thistle Scottish Festival is a family-friendly festival in which you can go be Scottish for the weekend or celebrate your Scottish heritage.
I only found out about this fun and festive event a couple of years ago by accident–one of my friend’s liked a picture on facebook of the festival. Unfortunately, every year since then, I have found out about the festival last-minute, and been unable to go. This year, however, I started investigating early, marked it on my calendar , planned everything around this festival. Through doing some genealogy and questioning of our family historian (my father), I discovered that we are descendants of Clan MacKenzie on my father’s side. How? I still haven’t connected all the dots yet as I am still doing my own research…but he has the clan crest tattooed on his arm! My husband also has Scottish ancestry from his mother’s side. His maternal great-grandfather’s from the Dick family lineage, which origins are from Scotland. So, long story short, both of us were so excited to see what this festival was about!
Friday night was the Fire Ceremony. I am still learning so much about all the Scottish traditions. Traditionally, when the Clans would attend the Gatherings, they would have a massive fire and all the Clans would announce themselves present and add a light to the fire. After all the Clans had announced themselves present, there would be a ceilidh (party) with music, dancing, brews, and food. This tradition was carried out Friday night at the Fire Ceremony. Even though none of my Clan was there, it was so inspiring seeing the Clans that were present. Some were represented by numbers and some were only one, but all were proud. Peppered in the crowds of spectators were kilts worn by man and women. Beautiful family plaid was proudly worn. I only had my “Keep Calm and Dinna Fash Sassanach” T-shirt. For those of you who are clueless as to what that refers to, go read the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon.
Because there wasn’t a huge representation of Clans at the ceremony, it didn’t last but maybe 10 minutes. Bagpipes were played, battle cries were called, and a fire was lit! From there, we all sauntered over to the big Edinburgh tent, where Flowers of Edinburgh played some traditional jams and people danced. Beer flowed, babies giggled, meat pies were consumed, and kilts were swaying in the wind.
Later that night and through the most of Saturday, it poured and flooded. My brother, Jeremy was spending the weekend with me and my husband, and we were bound and determined to get out and enjoy the festival at some point. In Scotland, it rains. Nothing stops a Scottish party. If they are cold, they just add more brew and throw a few more logs on the fire. So, I knew there would still be a party going on.
We arrived around 3:45 pm. Strolling through the Kirkpatrick Family Farm, I did feel as though I was transported somewhere else. Cool mist kissed my face and my fingers dipped deeper into my coat pockets to warm. Bright green of spring clashed with the wintery chill of the sky and in the distance you could hear the shouts and cheers from the highland game athletes. Once in the main clearing, we noticed a major lacking of festival goers. I was saddened by this, as this festival only comes once a year. I wore my trusty rain boots, while my husband and brother sported their tennis shoes. Needless to say, their feet got soaked. We watched a few minutes of the Heavy Athletic Competition before the cold wind whipped us hard in the face. From there, the festive sounds of the Flowers of Edinburgh promised us shelter from the cold and tasty brew to warm our insides.
As you can see from the picture, there weren’t many people in the crowd, but the band played on just as if the house was packed. Such spirit and pride. Unfortunately, we got settled, just as their set was ending. We did get to enjoy some of their spirited songs the night before though.
During the short intermission, My husband and I sipped on some Belhaven, because you don’t drink Bud light at a Scottish fest. It was delicious despite the cold wind. Once the next band set up, we were greeted by the Ravens Three. Their music took me back to when Eric and I went to Ireland. Traditional music always tells a story–some happy, some sad, but all enchanting. Despite the thin crowd, icy breezes, and lack of beer in their hands, they were quite festive and put their full effort into their performance. We enjoyed it very much.
By the time the set ended, we were numb from the damp chill, our beer was empty, and I needed to use the facilities. So we made our way home. Today would have been a better day to go, however Sundays are always our crazy days packed full of getting ready for the work week.
Listed above was the event schedule for the Festival. As you can see there was more than just music and games. There was dancing, story telling, archery, sheepdog demonstrations, and Gaelic lessons. Hungry? Tantalizing aromas from the many food vendors would make a full person salivate for more. There were also blacksmiths and shopping areas filled with great treasures to take home. I know in the past this has been an epic event as I have seen videos and pictures. I can’t wait until next year when hopefully the weather will be nice.
I am by no means a professional photographer. My job is simply to get you excited about these events and make you want to take part in them. Please visit the Iron Thistle Scottish Festival facebook page where you can see videos and pictures from this year’s event.
Did you go? Have you been in the past? What did you think? I can’t wait to hear!