Welcome to Scotland. I graze in the middle of Estes Park, Colorado which is over 8000 feet in the air, with the beauty of the Rocky Mountains in the shadows behind the area holding the competition for the pipes and drums. This is a story of me feeling home sick while I enjoy music, culture, food and meeting people who got extremely excited at hearing the most authentic Scottish accent I could acquire for that day…
What was the event?
What: Scottish and Irish Highland Festival
Where: Estes Park (2 hours from Denver) Colorado
When: 7th of September
Let the story begin…
“OH MY DAYS…YOUR ACTUALLY SCOTTISH…” Well, funnily enough – yes I am. I am Scottish, lived in Scotland, born Scottish and speak English in a Scottish accent. The more people I spoke to I realized I was the only person from Scotland at the event but let me explain what this beautiful event was.
43 years ago Dr James Durward had a vision with other business leaders to create something that would bring some economic impact to the extremely small town. I sit holding on to a buggy will James shows me around like I’m a celeb. He was a dentist in Estes Park. Estes Park has a population of just short of 7,000 and now 43 years from starting James has brought at established event that over 75,000 descending on the town in the space of 3 days – that’s a 1000% increase. Everything is increased in preparation. The aim was to allow people the opportunity to share there Scottish heritage and celebrate the culture of there grandparents, great grandparents and so on. This became something that over the years has grown into people coming from all over America to “find there clan”, enjoy pipe band music and celebrate Scottish culture to name just a few reasons.
James vision was inspirational. He told me some brilliant stories – that I’ll write in the book. I was quite inspired as we spoke about the vision he had all coming from his family roots. He spoke about the 80 clans now attracted to the event, the Scottish weapon displays, the British isle dogs…but one of the main things I got from him – was the commitment he had to the festival. I also met his family. We sat chatting about there father, grandfather and greatfathers commitment and how he is the one who se ideas had created this. Now I get dropped off 1 hour and 30 minutes later – it was brilliant.
The park is now filled with marquees, Highland Games, pipe bands, a flyover, thousands pouring through the gates – and even better everyone is wearing there clans tartan. Everyone had a kilt on except the actual Scottish guy – me. I couldn’t really ask “oh where you from” because I would be there all day. But it was special at what had been created. Just a reminder – I was in the middle of absolutely no where – watching people celebrate my and our culture. I was invited onto the stage by John and there I was now up with the VIPS. Honoured. The MC asked “who are you – if your up here I need to announce you (TO 20,000 PEOPLE)” Ha ha ha…hilarious.
I was absolutely in my element seeing Highland Games, watching pipe bands, checking out the clans and food (well American food but pretending to be Scottish). This was home. Walking about I could see one amazing thing. Community. Everyone knew everyone. Everyone was friends and I was welcomed with opening arms. I meet the Hayes and the Camerons. I literally felt like one of them. I was being hugged and thanked for coming. I was driven around the site by an Irish Leprechaun (Yes – you read that right). Hearing the stories of The everyone’s attachment to the festival was really refreshing.
Someone asked me – this doesn’t offend you does it seeing everyone celebrating something they don’t actually know. I said no one the opposite. I mean except for the fact it looked like Outlander and Braveheart have had a baby and it’s created a festival. It’s actually encouraging to see people want to engage with the Scottish culture. Also this is an untapped market of people wanting to learn about Scotland and go to Scotland. This isn’t about culture it’s also about growing tourism from the middle of Colorado. There was a chance to win a trip for 2 to Scotland or Ireland – sadly I didn’t win.
They are proud to be linked to Scotland. They spend money to celebrate and demonstrate their heritage. This is a passion but also of who they are. Without this festival it would have never been possible to understand the impact Scotland has had on so many people. So thank you John and family for allowing this event to grow in a way that celebrates a culture so dear to me and millions more.
One thing to take away…
People who live in Scotland could learn a thing or two from this type of event. It’s about appreciating our culture more and realising the impact our culture has on millions around the globe.