Winter Springs’ Central Winds Park was the site this past weekend of the 33rd annual Central Florida Scottish Highland Games, an event steeped in the traditions of ancient times.
Sponsored by the Scottish-American Society of Central Florida, this year’s games had something for everyone: dancing, sports, music, food, ethnic heritage, shepherding demonstrations, a renaissance encampment, a wee dram of whiskey or two, ax throwing and bagpipes galore.
One could argue the main event of the games is, well, the Games! Apparently the Scottish people have always been a competitive lot and can make a game of anything. Throwing food across a river (the Haggis Hurl) and throwing, of all things, a telephone or power pole (the Caber Toss). And then there was the Boulder Boogie where people of all ages competed to see who could carry a 126-pound rock the furthest.
The “games” part of the day results from the apparent penchant Scottish men must have for throwing things: stones, hammers, power poles, sheafs of hay, and axes. Whoever can throw the furthest, whoever can throw the highest wins bragging rights, trophies and some cash.
Another highlight of the day is the Tug of War. Saturday’s event pitted the Seminole County Sheriff’s Department against the Seminole County Fire & Rescue Department, in which the latter won two out of three pulls. There are also kids’ events throughout the day that mimic the adult games.
The weekend weather was perfect for these events, which go long into Saturday night for those who dare. There is so much to see and do that it takes almost the whole weekend to fit it all in. Starting early Saturday morning, individual bagpipers compete for awards in categories according to skill level. Individual dancers compete in numerous dance categories such as the Lilt, Irish Washerwoman (very entertaining) and naturally, the Highland Fling, complete with swords.
Later in the afternoon, bagpipe bands from all over the country and even one from Canada competed for prizes. Hearing about 10 bagpipe bands take the main field to play traditional Scottish favorites is absolutely one of the most stirring things you’ll ever hear.
Throughout the day you can nosh on British favorites, such as sausage rolls, meat pies, bridies; shortbread (there’s even a competition for this!); and Eccles cakes.
So plan on making a day of it next year. For decades now, Central Florida’s games have been held the third weekend in January and for the last several years at Central Winds Park in Winter Springs – an ideal location. Pack a couple lawn chairs and a blanket and prepare to have the time of your life. Check www.flascot.com for details.
Note: Many thanks to Orlando Budget Grocery Examiner Shelli Browning, who attended this event when I could not and sent me this wonderful writeup.