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!
Nothing like playing a winter sport like rugby on an 85 degree day. Why not make it sevens just in case you weren’t warm enough. I strolled across to see some of the rugby later in the afternoon. Having been a rugby fan for many years, I thought I would see how the play was going.
Sevens is a trickier version of the game since it is a lot faster and it requires handling to be very slick. I don’t know the pedigree of the players I was watching but I wouldn’t be surprised if the heat was affecting their game.
A Scottish winter and an Illinois summer are very different climates in which to be playing. The ground was certainly wet underfoot after the recent rain but the temperature was high and the humidity higher so I think something as energetic as sevens was a stretch. However, they still played hard and followed the rugby tradition of trying to harm your opponent at every opportunity.
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!
A weekend break has recently taken us up to Door County in Wisconsin. We stayed in a small town called Baileys Harbor. By coincidence, the weekend that we were there, the town was holding a parade of Scottish Terriers. His parade started off with a pipe band walking through the streets followed by about 200 Scotties been walked by their owners.
This might sound like a recipe for disaster. Scotties are hardly known for their calm temperament (I will resist making any comment on their fellow countrymen) so putting 200 of them together and adding some pipes might seem like it was going to end up being a noisy affair. However, it all went off very smoothly. The dogs all trotted along without any complaint – including no complaints about the outfits at some of the owners had decided they should wear just in case we hadn’t noticed they were Scotties. I really don’t think a dog deserves to wear a fake kilt with fake bagpipes for extra effect.
A lot of people turned out to see the parade. A couple of people asked us if we had come specially for it. It was certainly fun to watch but I don’t think I would make a five hour drive each way just to see it! Interestingly, a lot of people brought their dogs to watch the parade. I’m not sure whether they think that their dogs would be interested in something because it was dog centric or not but I don’t think the other dogs were really that bothered.