Glasgow Lands Festival brings Scottish sights, sounds and exploits to Look Park

NORTHAMPTON – With a fern hidden behind the Clan Donnachaidh pin of his Scottish tam beret and the colors of the Duncan tartan on his kilt, Scott T. Duncan paraded proudly when his clan was announced at the 27th annual Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival on Saturday .

“Garg’ nuair dhuisgear!” Duncan loudly shouted his clan’s battle cry in Gaelic, while tossing a flag into the air. “Fierce when excited!” »

Growing up, Duncan, a resident of Manchester, Connecticut and Connecticut State Representative of the Northeastern Branch of the Clan Donnachaidh Society, did not carry on or practice many of the traditions relating to his Scottish heritage.

But sharing his clan’s history and shouting his ancestors’ battle cry is something he looks forward to as he has attended the annual event since the late 1990s.

Duncan was among countless others sporting kilts from their clans and showing their Scottish pride at Look Park on Saturday. Thousands of people attended the one-day event, which returned to the region after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival is the only Scottish festival in Massachusetts and, according to the festival committee, is the second largest in New England, behind the New Hampshire Highland Games and Festival, held annually in Concord.

The first Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival was held in Blandford in 1994 at the local showground to raise funds for the restoration of the town’s historic church. Initially it was thought the event would be held once, but the response has been so positive that it has become an annual event, according to Peter Langmore, chairman of the festival committee.

After five years in Blandford, the festival has moved to Stanley Park in Westfield. In 2004, the festival was moved to Look Park and has been held there ever since.

The festival is also a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to promote Scottish heritage and culture. The word “clan” derives from the Gaelic word “clann”, which means children – a large family where loyalty could span many generations, Langmore said at the event. Those associated with a clan are related by blood, marriage, or allegiance to the chief, and many resided in neighboring communities.

Glasgow Lands Scottish Festival is also helping other non-profits with money raised from the event, including Northampton social service provider Viability Inc. and mental health service provider River Valley Counseling Center in Northampton.

Throughout the day, attendees were treated to traditional Highland dancing, a bagpipe competition, snare drumming and a number of competitors testing their athletic strength with the heavy hammer and caber throw.

Another clan that was represented at the festival was Clan Fraser. Decked out in clan tartans were Emily and Edward Groner, and their daughter, Kori Thompson. Together, the family runs Highland Ledge Farm, a business that creates artisan blends of sweet and spicy jams as well as simple syrups and mustards. The Savoyard family has traveled to more than 120 fairs to sell their products.

After her husband’s retirement, Emily Groner tagged him to help with what she described as a “hobby”. Together they made 10 cases of everything in hopes that it would all last the whole year. But before they knew it, Thompson said, her mother called her where she lived in North Carolina and asked her to join the business as well.

As members of Clan Fraser, Thompson said purchasing decorative items for the company has been more difficult in recent years.

In recent years, the clan has become one of the best known thanks to Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling book series as well as the Starz television series, “Outlander”. The show features Scottish highlander Jamie Fraser and his time-traveling wife, Claire, as well as star actors Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe.

“At first I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t find any ribbon in Fraser’s colors, then it hit me: Oh! Foreign ! said Thompson.

In addition to those who knew their lineage well, a table was laid for those who weren’t as familiar. Cynthia Mulcahy, a Springfield genealogist and descendant of Clan MacPherson, manned the genealogy corner booth.

After her mother died as a young girl, Mulcahy said she wanted to know more.

“I have a passion and a love for where I come from; it defines who we are and how we are now,” Mulcahy said. “And I’ve found that often it can tell you where you’re going.”

Emily Thurlow can be contacted at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.

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