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Kilts trending at Penticton Scottish Festival

Organizers say 2,000 people turned out to hear bagpipes, watch strongmen and enjoy wee bit of culture
Lance Barusch perpares to toss a six-metre caber
Lance Barusch perpares to toss a six-metre caber.

Kilts were trending Saturday as an estimated 2,000 people had a wee bit of fun at the first annual Penticton Scottish Festival.

The one-day event, the first of its kind in the city since 2006, featured bagpipers, strongmen, sheep dog demonstrations, plus music and dancing, all set against a tartan backdrop.

Organizers didn’t know what to expect, but were pleased with the turnout by both participants and the public.

“We weren’t sure, because it had been on hiatus for a few years, but we had a lot of response from community groups that wanted to participate,” said co-ordinator Wayne McDougall.

He took up the bagpipes a few years ago and so also participated in the festival, which is expected to take place on the first Saturday in July for the foreseeable future.

“I’m kind of rediscovering my heritage and roots,” he said. “It’s cool. It’s like a little piece of Scotland here in Penticton.”

Much bigger representatives of Scottish culture participated in the heavy field events.

With about 300 pounds on his six-foot-five frame, Kelowna man Lance Barusch has the ideal physique for highland games. He’s also a natural.

The 44-year-old did his first caber toss seven years ago and managed to flip a six-metre pole once in the air and have it land straight out in front of him.

“I actually got a 12 o’clock, a perfect throw with a caber, so I was pretty jazzed,” said Barusch, who was one of 17 men and women who competed Saturday in various throwing events.

Barusch, a welder by trade, took to the games quickly and is currently the B.C. champion in the masters division for men over 40. He’s also the 2011 world caber toss champion.

“I don’t get a lot of recognition over it, but that’s OK,” he said with a laugh.

Although highland games are a hobby, Barusch attends 10 to 20 events each summer, and will go this year to meets in Minnesota, Ontario and Scotland. He said the Penticton show is off to a great start.

“Just when I got active in the sport, they cancelled the (previous) festival, and now it’s back so I slept in my own bed last night and here I am,” Barusch said.

“I love it and it looks good so far.”