NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – The last full weekend of every April, one of the oldest festivals in California’s Central Valley unfolds in Woodland.
The Sacramento Valley Scottish Games and Festival is the third-oldest Highland Games in the U.S. and the second-largest in the Western states.
Experience traditions of the Scottish Highlands in two days of Celtic music, dance and athletic competition, history, animals, art, clans and cuisine at the Yolo County Fairgrounds.
The Sacramento event is known as “the friendly games,” because it has a family atmosphere where everyone is welcome. It draws professional athletes, musicians, drum majors and dancers from around the world, including competitors and performers from Scotland and Ireland.
It wouldn’t be Scottish Highland Games without bagpipes, and they’ll have nine pipe and drum bands, competing in three skill-level grades. Details are online at www.saccallie.org/games .
The nonstop musical entertainment includes the Celtic rock bands Wicked Tinkers and 1916, Irish folksinger Seamus Kennedy, and Morghande, a Celtic group from Lassen County.
Local Scottish fiddlers will be led on Saturday by well-known recording artist John Taylor, while Celtic harps will round out the musical menu.
Also in Scottish tradition, Saturday night will feature a Ceilidh (pronounced “KAY-lee”), or evening party, featuring live entertainment and a catered dinner by Ludy’s Main Street BBQ and Catering. Tickets for the Ceilidh can be purchased separately for $17/adult or $12/children.
For more information, please visit the Caledonian Club’s Web site at www.saccallie.org/games or call 916-538-9887.
The St. Andrews Society will sponsor an Open Piping Piobaireachd Contest, Sunday morning, with cash prizes for the top three pipers.
Another special event is a drumming competition in honor of Scottish percussionist and former foothills resident Jimmy Brown, who played in many games, and enjoyed the Sacramento Games during his later years. The drumming award will be presented during Saturday’s closing ceremonies with the massed bands, at 4:45 p.m.
This is the first year they have offered open piping and drumming contests, which should attract even more outstanding musicians than usual to the Sacramento Valley Scottish Games.
British food, Celtic art and merchandise, the amazing Hennigan Spinning Frisbee K9s, huge Clydesdale horses from the Jack London Ranch, Highland cattle and other animals typical of Scotland round out the variety of fun. There’s even a seminar on fine “Scotch” whiskey that includes tasting (and costs $20).
Come see why the Sacramento Valley Scottish Games & Festival has been a permanent fixture here since 1877.