By Kristin Fox
For over 20 years, Franklin has celebrated its Scottish heritage traditionally every Father’s Day weekend with a festival featuring games, food, music and much more. This year, there were two Celtic celebrations – the 24th annual Taste of Scotland and the 35th Anniversary of the Scottish Tartans Museum and Heritage Center.
A steady crowd visited the Macon County Fairgrounds all day Saturday for the Taste of Scotland Celtic Festival and Highland Games. The festival featured traditional Scottish food, dancing, music and the Highlands games.
The festival featured something for everyone of all ages. Children’s games and activities as well as arts and crafts were available throughout the day. Booths with demonstrations of traditional Scottish craftsmanship, such as crafting longbows, knitting and kilting were scattered throughout the fairgrounds. The festival had several vendors serving traditional Scottish food, such as bridies, meat pies, shepherd’s pie and sausage rolls.
Every two hours, the featured bagpipe band, the award-winning Jamestown Pipes and Drums from Jamestown, N.C., performed for the crowd. The band is led by Pipe Major Eric Sparklin and Drum Sargent Robert Monroe.
Two local groups entertained the crowd with traditional Celtic and Scottish music — Mountain Muse, a trio made up of Katharine Brown, Marie Dunkle and Dave Stewart, and the Jacobites by Name, a duet featuring George and Nathan James.
Two performers from Asheville entertained the crowds – Colin Grant-Adams, folk singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, and Andrew Finn Magill, violinist, fiddler and composer. Wild Mountain Time, out of Cullowhee, performed their eclectic mix of Celtic and Folk music featuring songs from Scotland, Ireland and America. The trio featured the talents of Norma Jean Zahner, Jim and Josh Gordon.
This year’s festival featured the Atsila Anotasgi, the Cherokee word for “fire builders.” The Atsila Anotasgi, citizens from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians who focus on cultural preservation through reconnecting with their Cherokee heritage, shared stories of their history and taught several traditional Cherokee dances.
The always popular sheep herding event was back again at this year’s festival. Sheep herding is an important part of Scottish history and culture, and the live demonstrations highlighted the art of sheep herding using border collies or as the Scots call them, tykes.
This year’s festival featured a new event – axe throwing which proved to be a popular event for festival goers. An axpert coach taught participants to safely hold and throw an axe at dedicated targets.
The Taste of Scotland festivities began on Friday night with the annual clan parade beginning at the Franklin Town Hall down Main Street and ending at Rathskeller Coffee Haus & Pub for a free Ceilidh, a traditional Scottish party. Several regional Celtic musicians and dancers performed outside Rathskeller to kick off the annual festival.
The festival concluded with the Kirkin’ of the Tartans at the First Presbyterian Church on Sunday. The Kirkin’ o’ the Tartans is a ceremony in which God’s blessing is sought for the tartans worn by the Scots. “Kirk” is the Scottish word for “church”. The Kirkin’ of the Tartans is the presentation of a Scottish family’s symbol, its tartan, at church for blessing.
A free music concert sponsored by the Arts Council of Macon County closed out this year’s festival. The concert featured Caledonia Women, the duo of Marie Dunkle and Margie Swint, who presented a special concert of Scottish music and shared stories of how this music expresses the land, history, and culture of Scotland.
A celebration to mark the 35th anniversary of the Scottish Tartan Museum and Heritage Center was also held Saturday downtown Franklin. The museum is the only Tartan Museum in the United States.
Initially started in Highlands, the museum became a permanent feature in downtown Franklin in 1994. The museum was first located in the current town hall and was then moved to its current location on Main Street in 1999. The move to Main Street allowed the museum to increase its exhibits and artifacts and enlarge the gift shop.
In 2022, the museum had more than 14,000 visitors which now includes the Neolithic, Roman and Celtic migrations in Scotland.
The museum’s anniversary celebration took place throughout the day, beginning with a parade and included a shortbread competition and guest speakers. Scottish music was an important part of the celebration featuring the John Mohr Mackintosh Pipes and Drums & The Carolina Thundermugs. The celebration also included reenactors — the Breacan Clann, Southeastern Civilian Living Historians and 71st Highlanders.
no longer need to travel to Grandfather Mountain, Stone Mountain or
Group) will bring two groups of male athletes and one group of women athletes to compete in traditional feats of skill and strengths such as the hammer throw, the sheaf toss, and the stone throw. Of course, the most popular event is the caber toss where an athlete must pick up a log and try to toss it so that it flips completely over. The toss is not only judged on whether the log flips over past 90 degrees, but the angle ofd
to bring the official Highland Games to Franklin. You no longer need to travel to Grandfather Mountain, Stone Mountain or other far away locations to witness official highland games. SHAG (Southeastern Highland Athletics Group) will bring two groups of male athletes and one group of women athletes to compete in traditional feats of skill and strengths such as the hammer throw, the sheaf toss, and the stone throw. Of course, the most popular event is the caber toss where an athlete must pick up a log and try to toss it so that it flips completely over. The toss is not only judged on whether the log flips over past 90 degrees, but the angle of the landing with the perfect landing being at the 12 o’clock position on the landing zone.