Monday, September 11, 2017

Annual Scotfest, Estes Park

This festival is an annual tradition/pilgrimage in our household, or has been since the early 2000's at least. The Longs Peak Scottish-Irish Highland Festival is now in its 41st year (as of 2017), and is the largest of its kind in the USA. The Festival is held annually over 3 days in September, costs $25 per day/per person, a real bargain!.

Celtic style entertainment

Being a native of Great Britain myself, this festival does bring a little bit of "home" to Colorado once a year, with a mix of Americanisation perhaps. The setting certainly does give you the feel of being transported to the Scottish Highlands, and since Estes Park is at an altitude of 7,522 feet (almost twice as high as Ben Nevis), the temperature in September can be British like (we even had a dowsing of rain in 2017).

Beautiful backdrop of the Rockies

The festival schedule and vendors alike have a little bit of everything Celtic to keep the young and old interested. The main event at the festival has to be the Athletics, aka Highland Games, involving caber-tossing, hammer-throwing, and Sheaf toss. Professional jousting is also another popular event held at the festival; I had no idea jousting was a professional sport!, I have only ever seen it in re-enactments during the height of tourist season in England at Warwick Castle.

Sheaf toss

Sheaf toss

Professional jousting

There is no shortage of entertainment throughout the day/weekend, everything from Celtic dance, bagpipers, military bands, to Scottish drum bands. Perhaps one of the biggest draws to the music tent each day is the Scottish band Albannach, this group uses drums, bagpipes, even a didgeridoo, and they know how to get the crowd rocking!.


More traditional Scottish music

There is a section of the festival grounds dedicated to "Dogs of the British Isles", this is a great place to keep the kiddos occupied, and to also watch sheep herding demonstrations. Several stalls are also more kid friendly, such as the Raptor displays, and a dragon that can be slain :). In 2017 the army also flew in a Black Hawk Helicopter that you could climb on board, kids seemed to enjoy this.

St James slaying the Dragon

Sheep herding and dog area

Black Hawk helicopter for the kids (young and old) to climb aboard

There are usually two good sized craft tents, offering quality Celtic products, foods, and gifts. You can pick up everything from an authentic Kilt, woolen peaked cap, wool jumper (sweater), scarfs, Celtic jewelry, tin whistle, to the more tacky joke type gifts. There are also plentiful choices for food, albeit it mostly "State Fair" type cuisine, with 1 or 2 stalls offering Americanised British food (scotch egg, fish and chips, Pies etc). Belhaven Scottish Brewery supplies a good selection of beer choices, and you can find Whiskey tasting stalls too.

As a Brit who has lived in the USA for 17 years, I can thoroughly recommend this festival for a fun-filled day out that will not break the bank, mark your calendar, for September every year!.

No comments: