Two Cultures Combine to Celebrate Their Shared Culture

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The Scottish Foundation of Indianapolis hosted the 10th annual Indianapolis Scottish Highland Games & Festival at German Park on Oct. 12. The festival featured Scottish Games, food vendors, authentic goods, live music and ratpucking.

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The Indianapolis Scottish Games shirt on display.


The games began with the opening ceremony of the event, with introductions of the clans participating in the Festival, as well as the Queen and other notable members on the Games Committee. After the opening ceremony, the games began with the athletes taking their place at their first event. 

Kara Dougherty is an athlete who competed in the Weight Over Bar event. This was the last games she will participate in this year, ending her 4th year of competition.

“You can yeet stuff as far as you want,” Dougherty said, in reference to throwing the weight. 

Apart from the Games in the Highlands, situated in the Lowlands were many of the vendors of the event, from food stands to tents selling hand-crafted clothes and trinkets. Tanya Clark, an IUPUI employee, is one such vendor at her stand, Under the Mushroom, where she and her family handmake goods like signs, leatherworking, skirts and cloaks.

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Kara Dougherty in action throwing the weight.


“The craft evolves as you do it. It keeps me busy.” Clark said about her craft.

Apart from the crowds of people, the Royal Court plays out what would have happened in Queen Mary of Scotland’s court a near five centuries later. The Court, acting as the governing body of the games, consists of Queen Mary and many of her chambermaids and ladies-in-waiting. Catherine MacLactlan, a lady-in-waiting for the Queen told me that it was 1565 and that the Queen had just returned to Scotland from France. 

“Mary seeks to meet Elizabeth (Queen Mary of Scots sister, Queen of England) and wishes to keep her relationship cordial with her,” MacLachtlan said.

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Lord Mayor Hogsett and Queen Mary.


The Lord Mayor, or as we know him as Mayor Joe Hogsett, also made a special diplomatic appearance at the event. The Queen made a special entrance for Mayor Hogsett, where he went to proclaim the day as Indianapolis Scottish Heritage Day. 

“Indianapolis…is becoming a much more cosmopolitan city,” Hogsett said, “You (the students of IUPUI) are certainly welcome in the city of Indianapolis and I hope that you get an outstanding education that IUPUI offers, and while you’re here help us celebrate the many cultures that make our city great.” 

 He later went to play the Queens game of ratpucking, where players must launch a rat into a vase, and yell ‘Cheese’ while flinging the rat through the air.

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The Lord Mayor making the shot that would tie him with the Queen.


Another royalty walking around the festival were the clans, and most notably, the clan Chief and Chiefton of Clan Carrothers, a rarity at this festival. The Chief, also known as the head of the clan, flew in from Albuquerque, New Mexico on Friday to be at the event on Saturday. The Carrothers is a clan with DNA dating back 75,000 years, with traceable lineage on their Norse side dating back to 550 BCE. Notable Carothers include F.D.R, John Wayne, Robin Hood and Winston Churchill.

One of the many bands playing at the event was a performance by Celtic Rain, including Rebekah Lawson, Melodi Miller, Samuel Lawson and Jeff Kestin to the visitors of the Games. Rebekah Lawson is a performer in the band since 2009, as well as Coordinator of Entertainment at the festival. 

“All of our entertainment is local,” Lawson said. 

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Celtic Rain performing.


Melodi Miller, the newest member of Celtic Rain, talked about her time in the band.

“It makes me happy, and it’s something in my life that brings me a lot of joy…I’ll just go and play and I’ll feel better,” Miller said. 

Celtic Rain has had a very successful year.

“We are nominated for six awards, [including] a songwriting nomination for both Samuel and Rebekah, album of the year, song of the year, and spoken word,” Samuel Lawson said at the Artist Music Guild Heritage Awards in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Scottish Highland Games were an incredible experience to learn more about the Gaelic culture and ways people make a living doing what they love.

Hip, Hip, Huzzah, and God Save the Queen!




The photo recap of the event can be found here.

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