ScotsFestival XXIII: A Celebration of All Things Celtic

photo credit: Jennifer Havenner

ScotsFestival XXIII kicked off Valentine's Day weekend with a celebration that brought out the Scot in everyone. The incredible diversity of Celtic heritage and identity brought life and magic to the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California.

The day started off with the traditional Address to the Haggis. For those who might not know (or might not want to), haggis is a delectable combination of sheep's pluck (heart, liver, lungs), oatmeal, suet and spices. Don't fear, though, the USDA has banned sheep's lung, so this side of the Atlantic, we have to settle for a slightly less robust combination of ingredients.

The result is a sweet, spicy sausage with overtones of nutmeg and cinnamon. It tastes like a finely crafted sausage and served with a sip of scotch; it will leave you wanting more.

Following the haggis, the athletic field touted some of the finest Highland athletes. The women's Stone Throw was awe-inspiring. Grace and power combine in this ancient predecessor to the modern-day shot put. Women's stones weigh anywhere between 8-18lbs and men's stones weigh in anywhere between 14-26lbs. The object is to hurl the stone as far as one can throw.

photo credit: Jennifer Havenner

Be careful down on the field, however. The hammer toss consists of a weighted metal ball attached to a shaft, weighing approximately 16lbs; it has been known to fly far further than the field allows. For this reason, it is a strictly outdoor sport and one that provides quite a bit of excitement for the onlookers.

A wide variety of food abounds. My personal favorite are the meat pies. Cooked in ovens right on site, they come in a variety of combinations, all traditional recipes. The Scottish Pie is a simple mix of beef and barley, for the brave, a mac and cheese pie was available, no one can argue with a pie made of five different kinds of cheese. Kabobs and more traditional fare such as hamburgers and hot dogs were readily available if you were still craving a bit of haggis? Plenty available from various food stands.

Entertainers such as Rusty Bawls (don't worry, he tells the audience - the kids won't get it...) juggle fire and knives. When not performing, you'll find Rusty Bawls towering over the crowd on stilts; just don't try to sneak a peak up his kilt.

Swords and jewelry, Welsh cakes, goblets, clothing, wind chimes, and any manner of artisan craft can also be found. The view from the deck of the Queen Mary provided a beautiful view of the blue sky and crowds of Celts. Pints were flowing, whiskey tasting for the connoisseurs all led to a perfect Scottish weekend.

Check out the images below for a look at ScotsFestival XXIII

ScotsFestival XXIII: A Celebration of All Things Celtic