Highland Festival in the Lowlands of Utah

Jun 22, 2012

UPR correspondent Dani Hayes spent a weekend with Utah Highlanders in the Lowlands of Utah valley at Utah's Scottish Festival and Highland Games in Lehi.

Events included military music shows, band competitions, the Highland athletic games, Highland dance competition, Irish dance performances, a variety of Celtic music, food, and of course bagpipes.

Dani asked festival-goers what draws people to the Scottish culture if they're not Scottish?

"Men wearing dresses!" one man yelled.

And what's the deal with kilts?

"It's more comfortable than pants" was one answer. "It takes a real man to wear a skirt."

People aren't shy about their interest in the culture. Throughout the festival people were dressed in kilts and corsets, carrying sticks and swords, and playing instruments. Scottish and Celtic lovers come to events like this to share their common interests with others. And for all the fun and laughter, there is a sense of reverence when it comes to Scottish ancestry as shown in the March of the Clans, which expresses the culture's love of family.

Announcer: "Never forget your music. Never forget your heritage. Now back through the mists of time. From the glens to the mist of the highlands."

In the food pavilion, Dani tried the famous dish, haggis. Kevin Haggard of Sunblest Foods relieved her curiosity and told her how it is made and more importantly, what it is made of.

"Haggis is the traditional Scottish dish of the ground organ meat of a lamb: heart, kidney, liver, and they also use lung meat but lung is illegal in the United States so it's not used. That mixture of the organ meat is mixed with oats and seasonings and stuffed back into the stomach of the lamb which is used as a casing. The Scots were under the rule of the English and only had access to the by-products of cuts of meat that were used -- the leftovers of what was used by the English."

Highland dance is danced competitively now, but it originated as an expression of both personal and social emotions like joy and victory.

Heather Donohue owns a highland dance school in Taylorsville:

"Highland dance was originally done by the clans. It wasn't a competition. It was a war-dance done by men, not by women. It was a very masculine thing. It's a far cry from what it used to be hundreds of years ago when it was rough and done as a war dance. It's now done very precise and technical."

Half of Utah's population can claim Scottish descent. The festival brought together thousands of people of a common interest who could get in touch with their roots. People can't help being but be intrigued with what the culture is famous for: Tartans, music, dance, and of course the accent.