MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – It was “perfect Scottish weather” at Sharon Johnston Park Saturday as hundreds gathered for the first Rocket City Scottish Festival and Highland Games.
The culture-filled event marked the first Scottish festival in Madison County in nearly a decade, bringing the rich culture four thousand miles across the Atlantic.
Event organizer Kelly McGill said this is a great way to indulge in the diverse cultures that make up the Rocket City.
“Huntsville is a very German-heavy city which is wonderful,” McGill said. “But to have something uniquely Scottish in the area and to get our bagpipes out and we can wear our kilts and have our food…you know it is very special to us.”
Kilts, bagpipes, and highland games took over the park following the opening ceremony at 9 a.m. Vendors lined the park with homemade pastries, hand-crafted art, historic artifacts, and family air looms.
Ramona Perkins was happy to share her Scottish roots with others in the community.
“It’s exciting for us,” Perkins said. “We’re always happy to share our history, about Scotland, and also about local families that might live in the area that might be part of the larger group.”
In Scotland, families, formally known as Clans, could be spread out across several districts.
A district, Pat Curley explained, is an area of Scotland.
“A Clan might be from a district, but they might be from several districts,” he explained.
In addition to the food vendors and live music, visitors could walk to the Scottish District Families Association booth to see if their last name could be traced to a Scottish clan. 25 Clans were represented at the park. The Clans traveled from Florida, Mississippi, and even Tennessee to attend the Scottish Festival.
For some, it was important to bring more than the history of Scotland to the area. Highland Games judge Will Bagley believes Scottish games hold just as much character as the history.
“The sporting culture of Scotland is really the sporting culture that you see in your track and field games,” he said “So it’s something that’s relatable to a lot of people but also its a part of that Scottish heritage that a lot of these clan tents are trying to talk about and to bring to the forefront of people’s minds.”
Seeing the turnout for the first Rocket City Scottish Festival and Highland Games made a lot of people “hopeful” for future events.
“I’m excited because when people show their interest and come out that means we can keep this going and reach even more people,” said Perkins.