20 March 2013
We talk to the organisers of the Annual Tartan Festival in the Louisiana Hielands, USA. ...
We talk to the organisers of the Annual Tartan Festival in the Louisiana Hielands, USA, an event which promotes Scottish history and culture from a site at Scotland Farms, Minden.
What year was the festival launched?
The first Tartan Festival was held in 2001.
Why was the festival set up?
It started out as a barbecue/picnic for the Scottish Society of the Louisiana Hielands to celebrate Tartan Day here in the US. Then members of the Society decided to put on a festival inviting the public, with Doc Cameron offering his land at Scotland Farms as the venue. The idea was to educate the public on Scottish Heritage and music.
Does Louisiana have a big population of people of Scottish descent?
A little over 8% of the population of Louisiana is of Scottish Descent. Some came in through the port at New Orleans but many came in on the east coast and migrated to the south, some staying in Louisiana, especially the northern section. And there was a large settlement near New Orleans with many of the Scotsmen becoming plantation owners. Cajuns in this area, although they are Acadian French, were greatly influenced in their cuisine by the Scots.
What events does the festival include?
Our Tartan Festival offers:
Clan Tents (that educate the guests on their heritage)
A genealogy tent to find out what clan your surname comes from
Bagpipes and drum
Music ranging from folk to a present day spin on Scottish/Celtic
Gaelic language lessons
Demonstrations of Scottish Highland Games
A Bonnie Knees competition (pictured) which is always the highlight with the ladies. They love men in kilts.
How many visitors would you attract in a typical year?
We are a small festival but we bring in an average of 2,000 plus visitors. Some years may be higher depending on the entertainment brought in.
What's the best thing about being involved with the festival?
We enjoy being involved in the festival through our booth. My husband Doug is Scottish, so he gets loads of attention because everyone loves to hear him talk. Doug loves telling people about his homeland, giving them advice on places to travel while visiting. He educates them on the real history of Scotland and dispels myths from all the wonderful Hollywood movies portrayals such as in Braveheart and Rob Roy. It makes us both happy to see our visitors when they are having fun and are anxious to learn more about the Scottish culture.
What are the biggest challenges facing the festival over the next year or two?
Having discussed this in our Society meetings, the biggest challenges we are facing is finding sponsors to help fund our festival where we can grow and continue to add events to our schedule. And as we grow having enough volunteers to help work the festival events. For the first time, Doug and I have reached out to Scotland in helping us to find ways to raise funds for our festival and provide us with information for our guests. We have been so pleased with their response. Scotland’s goverment has sent us things to decorate with and Scottish businesses have donated items as prizes for us to giveaway to lucky guests.
For more on the festival, which will be held on 6 April 2013, visit the Scotland Farms website.
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