The Long Island Scottish Festival and Highland Games is back for a 59th year, headed for Old Westbury Gardens Saturday, Aug. 24.
One of the longest running festivals on Long Island, the Scottish Festival and Highland Games has been a staple on Long Island since it began in a park back in 1960.
“It all started with five clans getting together at a small park 59 years ago,” said Andy McInnes, the festival committee’s chairman. “The kids would compete in races and play games in the field and since then it’s only continued to grow. Now, we’ve been at Old Westbury Gardens for the last 30 years.”
The annual festival has something for everyone in attendance. It will feature pipe bands all day long, Irish step dancing, a harp player, Scottish-bred dogs, a caber toss for both adults and children, tossing the sheaf and putting the stone children’s races, tug-o-war, shortbread contests, antique British autos featured in car shows and parades, birds of prey and falconry, pony rides, petting zoo, highland and country dancers, Cameron music ensemble, face painting, plenty of Scottish food and drinks and a raffle at the end of the day. If that’s not enough for you, there’s so much more that will be going on.
“Our most popular attractions are the Highland games,” said McInnes. “Everyone loves to see the caber toss, it’s for men and women and they have to flip over what’s basically a 20-foot tall, 150-pound telephone pole. There is also a caber toss for children, too, with the size of the caber depending on the size of the kid, but it can go up to being 14 feet high.
“We also have a putting the stone competition, which is basically shot put with an oddly shaped stone, and raising the sheaf, which traditionally consists of raising a stuffed burlap bag over a horizontal bar, which could be higher than the competitor’s head.”
Besides competition and games, the Scottish Festival can also be educational for those in attendance. For people who don’t know much about Scottish history and culture, there will be multiple tents at the festival worth paying a visit to if you want to learn as much as you can.
“Scottish clans from across Long Island will have tents set up at the festival to talk about their family’s ancestry,” said McInnes. “We’ll also have other educational exhibits scheduled during the day, including how bagpipes are made.”
There was a fear that this year’s festival would be called off due to expensive tent fees after the Village of Old Westbury enacted a new levy in order to receive a permit, but the festival committee and Old Westbury Gardens were able to come to a compromise with the village in order to hold this year’s event.
“The Village of Old Westbury added a $300 fee to get a permit for each tent this year and we have more than 60 tents, so that would have cost more than double what we actually make from holding the festival,” McInnes said. “Thankfully, we were able to come to an agreement with the village and the festival is able to go on.”
The festival is planned each year by Old Westbury Gardens and Long Island Scottish Festival and Highland Games Inc., both of which are not-for-profit organizations. Any profits made from the festival pay for annual expenses of the gardens and go to local charities, including Disabled Vets, Wounded Warriors, the Salvation Army and Island Harvest, as well as other food banks.
The festival will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24, and admission costs are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $8 for children older than 6 years old and $10 for Old Westbury members. Children under 6 are free.
Free parking is available at Westbury High School, with shuttle bus services in place to transport guests to and from the festival. For more information on the annual event, visit www.liscots.org.