At least during the Annual Kincardine Scottish Festival they are!
When I moved into this area of Ontario, I had no idea just how Scottish its origins were, and just how much that Scottish-ness was celebrated on an annual basis. I hadn’t planned on attending the Kincardine Scottish Festival last weekend, but my real estate agent and her husband are Rotarians and involved in many local events and services. They asked if I’d like to volunteer for a couple of hours at the festival on Saturday afternoon and I jumped at the chance – free access to the festival and a free t-shirt. They had me at t-shirt!
Plus I am ¼ Scottish on my father’s mother’s side … I think.
So I drove out to Kincardine from the trailer, about 20 minutes, and picked up my wristband and green t-shirt signifying “volunteer” status. I took a quick tour around the grounds in Victoria Park, where Scottish dancing competitions and judging of solo pipers were underway, then headed down to Queen St. to buy a coffee and treat at Bean’s Bistro, call Dennis on Skype, and wait for the parade to begin.
The parade was comprised of the competing pipe bands and the local “clans” marching behind tartan signs of their family names. Only a few MacLeods. Lots of MacArthurs! Even some Grahams. This was my dream parade! ALL pipe bands and kilts! Having been in my high school marching band at Malvern and the Queen’s Bands at university (our uniforms were kilts in both), I am well acquainted with marching and playing an instrument at the same time (much harder in the rain and cold winter months, let me tell you!!) But I never really had the chance to enjoy the other bands then, and especially the pipe bands, whenever I took part in a parade.
This was a perfect sunny day, though – the kind we would have preferred when marching in the Toronto Santa Claus Parade all those decades ago! And all the bands were top-notch, too, so I was in my element, standing on the side of the street, lapping up all that great music.
My day was to get better, however.
After hanging out in the library for a bit (so I could use their wifi) I walked up the street to see where I’d be stationed. I was going to be on traffic detail, keeping unpermitted vehicles out of the park area. I was ecstatic when I realized I was right smack in the middle of the practice/mustering area for the competing bands. I began shooting videos – LOTS of videos! I planned at that point to share these on this blog. (Unfortunately, when I tried downloading the first to YouTube, I received a message telling me I “might” be in contravention of copyright, because the video included music for which I did not have permission to reproduce. So I deleted the video, and you’ll just have to take my word for it that the bands and music were great!) The competing bands were mainly from Ontario, but there were several from Michigan and Ohio, and one, George Watson College, all the way from Edinburgh!
I stopped to have lunch at one point and ordered a Rueben sandwich from a food truck that warned, “Portions are LARGE!” And they weren’t kidding! Better than what was on offer at a restaurant across the street, I thought. But I also discovered I could have rented a kilt for the day. Damn! Wearing one certainly would have brought back even more memories. Although it really was too hot a day for a woolen kilt.
My job of traffic control was pretty simple, since there was a big “Road Closed” sign behind me that most drivers believed and obeyed. Otherwise, I struck up a few conversations with passers-by and just enjoyed the music, the kilts, the atmosphere, and the glorious day.
Speaking of conversations, I did notice one spectator who not only resembled, but could have been the older twin brother of a certain publisher I know in Calgary, right down to the long white hair pulled back into a ponytail … It was uncanny, but he assured me he didn’t have a relative out west and had never been in the book business or a magician. He was, however, now farming organically, which was very interesting. Then I discovered, while talking with my replacement at 5 p.m., that not only had he recently moved into the area, but that he grew up in Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood in the 50s and 60s, although he hadn’t attended the same schools I did. Wild! We were both amused, but not really surprised, by the coincidence. It seems to happen all the time to me.
Anyway, I had a fabulous day, and still had pipe music on my mind long after I’d arrived back at my trailer that evening. I don’t have a clue as to who won any of the competitions. They were all winners, as far as I was concerned, and I was thoroughly entertained the entire day.
I’ll definitely be attending the Kincardine Scottish Festival next year. You’d be welcome to go with me, if you’re interested. I can guarantee that, if you enjoy pipers and pipe bands, this will be the place to be and you’ll certainly get your fill of sights and sounds!
And now I see a banner in town announcing the Gathering of the Bands on August 29th – Woohoo!!
You are most welcome here! Enjoying the view with me from my trailer or verandah.