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From the highlands: Weekend Scottish festival on tap

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The Cincinnati Emerald Society Police & Fire Pipes & Drums marches through the Bartholomew County Fairgrounds at Saturday's Columbus Scottish Festival, Sept. 8, 2012.
 Andrew Laker | The Republic
The Cincinnati Emerald Society Police & Fire Pipes & Drums marches through the Bartholomew County Fairgrounds at Saturday's Columbus Scottish Festival, Sept. 8, 2012. Andrew Laker | The Republic

Justin Booth knows precisely where attendance growth can surface for the Columbus Scottish Festival, which is promoted over a large part of south central


Right here in Bartholomew County.

Information from the 4,000 people attending last year’s event shows that 70 percent came from outside Columbus. In fact, most people drove in from Bloomington or Indianapolis.

“There have been people coming up to me at the Columbus Farmers Market saying, ‘There’s still a Scottish Festival here?’” Booth said. “I think some people think it died when it moved (several years ago) from Mill Race Park.”

Since the move, attendance has increased for the gathering that opens at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds, off County Road 200S. The weather forecast includes sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s both days.

The event will showcase enough Scottish bagpipe bands to drive the world plaid — plus the discipline of sheepdog trials, the muscle of Highland Games athletic competition, the richness of Old World music and storytelling, among other


Singer and storyteller Colin Grant-Adams, a native of Obin, Scotland, has performed at the festival several times over its 22-year history. He mentioned that, even if people have heard his traditional Celtic tunes before, he’s continually changing and tweaking material for new-fangled presentations.

In fact, he’s recently delved into a bit of bluegrass, which came out of a Celtic background.

“But there’s still a big and even a growing market for traditional Celtic music,” said Grant-Adams, speaking from his home in Glasgow, Ky., which hosts its own sizable, annual Scottish celebration.

Booth said Grant-Adams has been among favorite entertainers here for the festival. Another popular act is the Baltimore-based American Rogues, performing what it calls a Celtrock folk classical. Booth mentioned that festival organizers recently have received emails from people as far away as Maryland and West Virginia planning to come to Columbus to see the band.

Of course, Booth also knows that the pipe bands, including Columbus’ Southern Indiana Pipes and Drums, are a prime draw, filling the fairgrounds with a sound both plaintive and regal. As drum sergeant of the local ensemble, he himself loves the sound — and is proud, too, of his own Scottish heritage that is a mix of clans of the MacNeils and the Grahams.

So, besides simple outdoor fun, the festival offers attendees a chance to trace a bit of their lineage with the help of the clan tents.

“You can learn so much about history and heritage,” he said.

Columbus Scottish Festival

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds, 750 W. County Road 200S, just south of Garden City

FEATURING: Sheepdog trials, Highland dancing and Highland Games athletic competition, music, storytelling, clan histories

FOOD AND DRINK: Plenty available, including whiskey tasting

ADMISSION: $10 for adults at the gate; $2 for children ages 6 to 12. Those younger are admitted free



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