Wednesday, June 15, 2016

ChiIL Mama's Adventures at The Annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games

Friday, June 17 & Saturday, June 18, 2016

Experience the best of Scotland without leaving Chicago! The annual Scottish Festival & Highland Games is bigger and better than ever in its 30th year with an extravagant array of attractions and festivities.

Disclosure: Thanks to the Scottish Festival and Highland Games for providing my family with complimentary admission to facilitate our photo feature and review. As always, all opinions, photos and memories are my own.

My husband has some Scottish ancestry, so, hence my two kids do too. Last year we ventured out to Itasca for a muddy but fun look at The Scottish Festival and Highland Games. 

It's quite a sight. Soooooo many kilts and bagpipes. Since last year, I've become hooked on the Stars Outlander series, so an entire field full of kilt wearing Scotts has even more appeal. The quirky feats of strength are something to see and the music stages are fun too. Since I'm Bonnie, I think I heard my name sung at least a few dozen times in various folk songs. All in all, we recommend checking it out for family friendly fun with a multicultural twist.

Check out ChiIL Mama's Full Set of Photos in the Slideshow here:
Favorite shots are embedded below.

The largest Scottish cultural organization in North America, the CHICAGO SCOTS, celebrates three decades of providing entertainment and Scottish culture with a modern twist this June, with their annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games. Taking place Friday, June 17, and Saturday, June 18 at Hamilton Lakes, 1 Pierce Place, Itasca, IL, the beloved summer celebration, the largest festival of its kind in the Midwest, will feature an extravaganza of activities and attractions from the Caber Toss to the Highland Dancers to the Dogs of Scotland. This family-friendly event is a chance to explore Scottish culture without buying a plane ticket. Event proceeds benefit the CHICAGO SCOTS’ principle charities that provide assisted living and first class memory care at two locations: The Scottish Home and The Caledonian House.  

“Each year we invite participants, whether Scottish by birth, by heritage, or simply by inclination to join us, and each year we are overwhelmed by the response to our festival.  This year’s event promises to be our most exciting celebration yet, highlighting 30 years of Scottish arts and entertainment, athletics, and culinary specialties,” said Gus Noble, President of the CHICAGO SCOTS. 

Attracting over 10,000 attendees to experience Scotland’s rich heritage and unique traditions over the past 30 years, the annual celebration has featured all Grades of pipe bands, crowned many beautiful Heather Queens, and displayed the talents of many exceptionally skilled Dogs of Scotland. Of course, no Scottish Festival would be complete without the famous Haggis Hurling Contest and Haggis Eating Contest, only the brave will enter. Many men have bared their knees in the annual Men in Kilts contest and all levels of Highland Dancers have shown off their best moves. Over 500 participants throughout the years have put their creativity and taste buds to the ultimate test by joining the Shortbread Contest, and endless amounts of whisky have been tasted.

Be a part of the action this year as the festival launches Friday, June 17 with exhibits and vendors open from 4:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Highlights include the ever-popular Heavy Athletics Exhibition, the return of the band, Enter the Haggis as the Friday night headliner, Whisky VIP Master Class, Solo Pipe Band Competition, an action-packed kid’s area with mini-golf, balloons, tattoos and mini athletics, and the Heather Queen competition, crowning the 2016 Queen and Court.

The fun continues on Saturday, June 18 from 8:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. Guests will be able to enjoy the thrilling Heavy Athletics including the Caber Toss (with participants flipping 20-foot, 140-pound tree trunk), the 22-pound Hammer Throw, the Sheaf Toss (where athletes launch a bale of hay over a high bar) and the Clachnert (flinging a 16-pound river stone); lively Mid-West Pipe Band Championship competition, the largest pipe band competition in the Midwest with over 20 pipe bands and 300 solo performances of pipers and drummers; Highland Dance competition; an intense Rugby Sevens Highland Challenge; and a Coerver Cup 3v3 youth soccer tournament. The Dogs of Scotland, Highland Cattle, and Clydesdale Horses offer a chance to greet some of Scotland’s cutest furry exports. Genealogy and cultural exhibits provide insight into ancestry to kick start research on the family tree. A Parade of Clan Tartans and attendee competitions British Car Show featuring vintage automobiles, Haggis Hurling Contest for women, Men in Kilts contest, Haggis Eating Contest and Shortbread Contest are also perennial favorites. Little ones may continue to enjoy mini-golf, balloons, tattoos and try mini heavy athletics. Sample Whisky and Spirts tastings will be available for adults to indulge in from various vendors. Dine on traditional Scottish or American cuisine and peruse the Celtic Marketplace. The festivities conclude with the Closing Ceremonies and Massed Bands Show, an exhilarating concert featuring 1,000 bagpipers and drummers performing traditional musical selections including Amazing Grace

Celtic Rock Stage entertainment for this year includes high energy Celtic inspired performance group Chelsea House Orchestra, Celtic Folk Rock Band Enter The Haggis, Cleghorn and performances by Jon Langford and Sally Timms of the Mekons.

Ticket prices for the 30th Annual Scottish Festival & Highland Games are as follows:

Friday-Children 12 and under are FREE; Adults are $12.00; Seniors (60+) are $10.00
Saturday- Children under 2 are FREE; Children ages 3-12 $5.00; Adults are $20.00; Seniors (60+) are $15.00
Two Day Pass - Children under 2 are FREE; Children ages 3-12 $5.00; Adults are $30.00; Seniors (60+) are $25.00
Patron Weekend Pass (Family Friendly)- $210 This two-day pass includes entry into the festival (for 2 adults & 2 children), premier seating inside the Patron Tent, complimentary food and beverages, 16 drink tickets (beer included), and parking passes for both days.
Patron Weekend Pass (21 & Over)- $130 This two-day pass includes entry for one individual into the festival, premier seating inside the Patron Tent, complimentary food and beverages, 8 drink tickets (beer included), and parking passes for both days.

The festival is held at Hamilton Lakes, Itasca, Illinois, located at I-290 and Thorndale Avenue. Parking will be available on pavement in parking garages. Parking will be $5 per vehicle for parking on both Friday, June 17 and Saturday, June 18 or guests may purchase a two-day parking pass for $8. For more information, event schedules, competition registration forms or to purchase tickets, visit or call (708) 426-7149.

The CHICAGO SCOTS would like to thank the following corporate sponsors and in-kind donors:   Hamilton Partners, Village of Itasca, Itasca Fire Department, St. Killian Importing Highland Titles, Westin Hotel of Itasca, and Hyatt Place Itasca.

The CHICAGO SCOTS celebrate Scottish identity on behalf of the Illinois Saint Andrew Society. Established in 1845, the Society is the oldest 501(c)3 charity in Illinois. The Society nourishes Scottish identity through service, fellowship and celebration of Scottish culture. In addition to organizing initiatives to promote Scottish culture, the Society offers a range of elder care services at our Scottish Home. The CHICAGO SCOTS welcome everyone who is Scottish by birth, by heritage or simply by inclination.

Disclosure: Thanks to the Scottish Festival and Highland Games for providing my family with complimentary admission to facilitate our photo feature and review. As always, all opinions, photos and memories are my own.

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