Okay, just to wrap up the whole Scottish Festival theme, here are a few other shots of the day just to give you a bit more flavor of the event.
If herding the sheep weren’t enough, there were other dogs being put through their paces. An agility course had been laid out and a bunch of owners were running their dogs through the course. From what I could see, there wasn’t a particular route that was supposed to be followed. Instead, they seemed to go wherever they felt like it.
Of course, when I say where they felt like it, I don’t always mean the owners. One dog in particular was very excited but not at all interested in the course. it ran in circles and barked at its owner until she finally gave up. They had another go a little later but that ended the same way.
Some of the dogs, though, were very skillful and could zip across the jumps and through the poles without pausing. A fun thing to watch for a while, particularly when it was too hot to move for a bit!
As you might expect from a Scottish festival, there were pipes and drums aplenty! I am sure they are designed to intimidate the enemy and, as I’m sure you know, the enemy of every Scotsman is an Englishman. Therefore, I was walking into the lion’s den on this day even if some of the claims of Scottishness were a little tenuous!
The various bands that were competing were all taking the thing very seriously. They were well practiced in their routines and the musical ability was high – no strangled cats on this occasion. Moreover, they really showed their commitment to the cause by dressing up in the full outfits, despite the fact that they are designed for a Scottish climate, not a hot, humid, summer day in the Chicago suburbs!
There were bands all over the place warming up, tuning the pipes, getting some last minute practice in before their time slot came due. There were a series of judges around the arena scoring them on different aspects of their performance. As their time was up they streamed out of the arena and another band was already waiting to come in. No pauses for the spectators here!
As part of the Scottish celebrations, there was a demonstration of sheep dogs at work. This was something I always thought of a either a northern England or Welsh activity but I guess it is a big deal in Scotland too. Anyway, a bunch of dogs were taking it in turns to demonstrate their skills with a small flock of sheep brought in especially for the occasion.
The dogs and the shepherds were certainly very effective. They could move the flock wherever they felt like it (although the attempt to split the flock in two was a little less successful). The dogs were really fun to watch as they zipped around the flock and then froze on the ground until needed again.
The sheep were amazing as well. These creatures are obviously very fixated on one thing. Eating! The dogs could get them quite jumpy but a second alter they would forget everything and start munching on the grass. I suspect if left alone, they wouldn’t move far at all as long as the grass lasted!
The suburbs of Chicago had an interesting offering recently. A festival was held to celebrate Scottish culture (no Rob, don’t go there) and to hold Highland Games. I haven’t been to this event before and this year it had been moved to a new location which was supposed to be able to handle the amount on show better so we headed along.
It was hot and humid (not very Scottish) so not a day to hurry yourself. However, to add some authenticity, the recent heavy rains had left the field very boggy in parts. The vent was huge and I shall tell more about it in the coming days. One of the first things we went to see was the tossing of the caber! The games had already had a couple of events and more were due later in the afternoon. However, we got one fo the more famous events while we were there.
Competitors had come from all over the country. The men and the women were competing together (obviously with different cabers) and it was quite something to watch. All of these people looked like they could handle themselves in a fight! They were big people. A couple were school teachers so I suspect their pupils know how to behave.
The announcer suggested that the women had chosen too long a caber and no-one managed to get it over while we were watching. However, the men were having more luck and there were quite a few successes including some that were given perfect scores – do you know how to score this event?? A good start to the afternoon.