Eastern Oregon Celtic Festival

IMG_6891As I’m sitting down to write this post, I’m reflecting on the day. Once again, I found some neat event nearby and ditched all the things I could/should do in favor of an adventure with my son. After all, we’re only young once, and I have him less than 30% of the time, right! This weekend’s escape was to the city of La Grande, Oregon for the Celtic Festival, an official event for the Scottish Highland Games…

IMG_6900The anticipation must have been eating at me, because I woke at 5:30 am. (Time to snap pics of the sunrise!) I decided it best to get up early, take my shower, and have breakfast waiting for my boy. (I find it’s so much easier to get out of bed to the smell of coffee and bacon, don’t you?) This way I can help him get ready for his school hours, while getting a head start.

We played our imagination-based RPG on our 1.5 hour trip from home. We were early enough to sneak in some pleasurable business by looking at and test-driving a few new cars. IMG_6905

We grabbed a fast-food lunch, and headed to the Union County Fairgrounds. After procuring a parking spot & paying admission ($15 for me, kids are free) we were in. We had dozens of neat booths to see, food vendors, clans, highland games, performances, but none of that mattered now… My boy had been on good behavior all morning, and had to expend some energy. Needless to say, we made it about 10 feet to the bouncy-house, where he promptly wore himself out.

IMG_6903We explored a little, taking one path of a loop, until we discovered the field where they were tossing the sheaf. The sheaf toss is an American addition where they toss a sack of twine over a bar to simulate bucking hay into the loft of a barn. (So says the handy booklet they provide.) While it starts low, you’d be surprised how high some can throw it, even performing a spin when necessary. Oddly enough, I found that many times the throw was high enough, but the aim wasn’t true. A very interesting sport to watch for a while.IMG_6909

Tiring from that for a while, we ventured on down another path, visiting booths representing clans, their history, relation, etc. We happened on a vendor selling swords both real and wooden. We had seen these superb broadswords running around in other childrens’ hands and had finally located the source! The vendor was hollering at someone across the way, mentioning he was down to the last one. I held back for a minute, then declared, “SOLD!” Could I make one myself? Sure, but this one will serve as a wonderful template Winking smile

IMG_6914The new sword occupied little hands quite well, whilst we joined spectators at the stage for some music. ‘Twas here we killed time, as we waited for the sword demonstration. The weather had other plans, as a thunder shower started threatening our day.

Being a customer already, we proceeded back to the sword vendor and took shelter under their fly. While wet, and slightly postponed, the demonstration commenced, making short work of multiple IMG_6933“English” fruits.

With thoughts of R. Lee Ermy on History Channel’s “Mail Call” I had to go pay a visit to more advanced hardware, courtesy of the Scottish Regiment. While we had missed their procession earlier, we got the full-service treatment. They explained the different weapons, how they worked, and let us handle most of them! I was impressed by the machine guns which were retrofitted to fire using propane and spark plugs. Relatives will definitely want to see the gallery on this one!

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We watched more of the competition, with the weight-over-bar, and more sheaf tossing. The weights being tossed may appear small, but weigh up to 58 pounds! All that exertion made us have sympathy hunger, though some may label it ‘dinner time.’

After another deluge from the skies, we continued our un-healthy splurge with a polish corn dog for me, and cheeseburger for my boy. I would have tried some of the healthier/exotic stuff, but it was twice the price, and I was low on capital.IMG_6985

Enjoying our meal, I couldn’t help but notice that some women were besting the men without too much difficulty. Apparently, grace, skill, and practice still outweighs brute strength. As light was failing, so was my 8-year olds attention span. The caber toss was to be the pinnacle event that we had waited for, but we didn’t. After watching some practice, we were satisfied, tired, and wet.

Afternoon performances had been cancelled, so we retreated to the truck. (Apparently, it’s not good to run stereo systems out in a raining thunderstorm, who knew?

Well, enjoy the pictures, as we enjoyed ourselves!

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