Virginia Scottish Highland Games

Last week my husband and I were doing the normal back and forth about what to do come the weekend. Clean house? Lowe’s? A park? IMG_0954A picnic? Then, like a bolt of lightning from the sky I thought to look up and see if there were any games in the area. Virginia Highland Games, Labor Day weekend at Great Meadows, a mere 20 minutes down the road. I nearly fell out of my chair. It was like the heavens had parted and a choir of saintly hosts were singing that this was where we were meant to be. Saturday dawned to be partly sunny, 70’s, and a nice breeze to fill the early September air. The only way to add to this perfection was a short drive into the mountains and roll down the windows to hear the skirling of bagpipes drifting over the meadow. I may have squealed a little when I got out of the car and fell into the sea of kilts.

We strolled down the booths of haggis, local shortbread, handcrafted sgian dubhs and dirks, jewelry, and IMG_0957clan tartans. Watched a fiddle jam, Highland dancing, and sheep herding demonstration by a very crafty looking border collie. There was a section set up for reenactment interests where each tent gave an example of certain eras in Scotland ranging from the Roman occupation all the way down to WWII. I love looking at these things and the people there are always so knowledgeable, and yet I can never think of anything to ask them. Without trying to sound like a know it all, many of the topics they cover I’ve read about. My husband suggested I come with a prepared list of questions next time which I think is brilliant. I do like to touch the stuff like the material of a uniform sleeve or the weight of a musket ball. Smells are highly important as well, like sitting where the stench of burnt metal can assault your nostrils during a cannon demonstration. That kinda thing comes in handy for scene descriptions and never let it be said I wasn’t willing to go the extra mile for authenticity!

Of course the major attraction was the pipe and drum parade. There’s nothing like hearing hundreds of bagpipes filling the country air, IMG_0958 and more than once did I find myself easily slipping back to Edinburgh. Without the smell of hops that old city is known for 😉 My two year old daughter loved them, and I couldn’t be more proud! My beagle baby wasn’t so taken with the all the noise, but did she did get lots of attention and pets on the head. One even from a real Scotsman who has two beagles of his own!

We didn’t get to watch much of the strong man competition because there’s only so much tree tossing a toddler can sit through before she hit the trifecta of no return: hungry/hot/tired. In a few years we’re hoping to bring our lawn chairs and set up camp all day to watch the endless rounds of cabor toss and hammer throw without her rolling around on the ground at our feet in boredom. Best part of all, besides feeling like I was back in Scotland, I may have convinced my husband to wear a kilt next time 🙂

Yep, that's my clan!

Yep, that’s my clan!


  1. Tom Threadgill

    Looks like fun! Did you have any haggis? Eww….

    And I think the bagpipes get a bad rap. Most people seem to not think so highly of them. Have you ever tried to play them? Looks insanely difficult. 🙂

    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Sadly, I didn’t get to the haggis as the line was too long. Next time although I suspect I’ll take one bit and decide nope, not for me. Kinda like black pudding which I have tried. Bagpipes do get a bad rap! I will say they are pretty loud and after a while the ears do get a little over stimulated, but I like to imagine them being played on the battlefield and watching the bad guys flee for their lives after hearing the God-awful sound of terror! Don’t think I have the lung capacity to play them so I’ll stick to my little flute 🙂

  2. Lisa Betz

    Looks like great fun!

    1. J'nell (Post author)

      Lots of fun! Everyone should get a taste of Scottish culture.


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