The Penticton Scottish Festival returns to King’s Park this July 4 for its second year.
“It’s an opportunity to celebrate culture,” said Wayne McDougall, one of the organizers. And while it’s called a Scottish festival, McDougall said they are taking in a larger cultural outlook.
“It has other Celtic elements. For example, we have the Irish dancers, they have an opportunity to perform and present their talent,” said McDougall.
There will be a number of competitions wrapped up in the festival, including highland dance, as well as piping and drumming, both individually and as bands.
There will even be a stock dog competition, building on the herding demonstration at the festival last year.
“Competitors come from all over,” said McDougall. A piper himself, he’s looking forward to wandering around the park listening to the competitors, especially to “the thunderous sound of the pipes” when the competitors gather as a Massed Band for the the opening and closing ceremonies.
“There are three bands coming and they all play together,” said McDougall. “Hopefully, I will be able to play in that.”
The bands that are coming are the Kamloops Pipes and Drums and two from Simon Fraser University under the banner of the Robert Malcolm Memorial Pipe Band.
“Over a hundred pipe and drum competitors, individually and they compete also as a band,” said McDougall.
There is more to the festival than just the competitions.
The 12-hour event at also includes Scottish heavy events like the iconic caber toss, knights in amour, activities for children and more.
“There is a much bigger children’s play area. It is the Celtic Kids corner that the Child Development Centre is sponsoring and they are bringing a lot of their volunteers to help run it,” said McDougall. “It is a family-friendly, bring your mom, bring your grandkids day.”
There is also a caber toss event for the children, sponsored by End of the Roll, which is providing carpet tubes for the kids as substitutes for the more typical tree trunks.
Mayor Andrew Jakubeit has agreed to try his hand at caber tossing rather than cutting a ribbon for the opening ceremonies.
“He is going to throw the first caber,” said McDougall. “It is actually going to be one of the kids cabers, so he doesn’t hurt anybody.”
Brian Johnston, president of the Penticton Scottish Festival Society, said the organizing committee has been planning the event all year.
“Basically five of us go right through from the beginning of August to now,” said Johnston. Penticton had a successful Scottish festival in the past, but for various reasons, it ground to a halt.
Johnston said there has been no shortage of interest in the new festival.
“We had a demo day down in Gyro Park two years ago, just to see if there is a clientele for this particular thing in Penticton anymore. And Gyro Park was full, so last year we had a Highland Games,” said Johnston.
McDougall said the turnout for the festival last year exceeded their expectations.
“It went really smooth. We had 2,000 people, which was more than we expected,” he said. “We are hoping to build on that momentum and let the event grow, keeping a local focus, allowing local entertainers and local Celtic groups perform.”
Other attractions at the festival include Scotch Tasting Classes, the Okanagan British Car Club and a beverage garden, along with article and food vendors.
New to the festival this year is a Celtic ceilidh, which wraps up the day, starting at 5 p.m.
“Two well-known Okanagan Celtic party bands will close the festival, and we challenge anyone to stay seated during their performances,” said Johnston.
“First the Maritime sounds of Cod Gone Wild give traditional Celtic music a modern edge. Then the ever popular Kinship will take the stage.”
Kinship performed at the festival last year, and Johnston said they were so popular they had to bring them back.
“They are definitely the highlight. They get the crowd just going, up on their feet, dancing away on the tables and chairs,” said Johnston.
Local singer Gordie McLaren will also be performing during the day, as well the FiddleKidz.
You can pop down any time of the day and there will be something fun happening, according to Johnston.
Tickets are available by cash at the gates and are $10 per person, $20 per family and children under 12 free when accompanied by an adult. No pets. More information and a full schedule is available on their website at pentictonscottishfestival.ca.