PANAMA CITY — Cinch up those kilts, boys, it’s time to toss a caber.
The annual Panama City Highland Games and Scottish Festival will be Saturday on the grounds of Grace Presbyterian Church, at the intersection of Lisenby Avenue and Airport Road in Panama City. The event features the competitions, music, dances, art, food and culture of the highlands.
“We are proud to continue the tradition of the Scottish Festival at Grace,” said Bill McCurdy, festival co-chairman. “For the last 20 years, it has continued to grow in size and attendance, and we work hard year after year to make everyone welcome at this family-oriented event.”
The day begins at 10 a.m., but the opening ceremony will be at noon, featuring a Parade of Clans and the Panama City Pipes and Drums Corps — a band of local bagpipers and percussionists. Another Clan Parade and Panama City Pipes and Drums Corps performance will close the festival at 4 p.m.
Enjoy musical performances throughout the day by Duel Christian, Smithfield Fair, Wynbreakers and Scots on the Rocks, as well as the Panama City Pipes & Drums Corps. Established in 1998, the PC Pipes & Drums has grown to a corps of 21 playing members plus students in training (see PC-Pipes.com for details).
Highland and Irish dancing will be in the church sanctuary at 10:30 a.m. Scottish country dancing is the origin of American square-dance, organizers said. There will be a dog show on the West Stage at 10:40 a.m., and a show by the Bay British Car Club on the northeast grounds all day, as well as Scottish and Celtic themed merchandise and catering vendors. Children can also enjoy bounce houses and a miniature train.
Highland (and “young highlander”) athletics competitions will take place throughout the day, including such feats of strength as the tossing of the caber, the farmer’s walk and others. Kilted athletes from all over the Southeast will compete in the games, while the Joel Plough Memorial Young Highlander’s Athletics will be held for youth of all ages, featuring kid-sized versions of the traditional Celtic sports.
McCurdy said Plough “worked extensively with children as a part of the Grace Afterschool Program and the Edge Youth Program, as well as with children in our community. He was a wonderful mentor and friend to kids all over Bay County, and the Young Highlander’s Athletics is an event he would have loved.”
If feeling peckish, you can visit the Tartan Tea Room in the church fellowship hall all day to sit and savor a pot of tea, or munch authentic homemade shortbread, scones and other traditional baked goods.
“You have to try traditional Scottish Eggs, which are hard-boiled eggs, wrapped in sausage, battered and deep fried,” said Deborah Krauss, festival chairwoman. “It’s a wonderful family event where you can explore your own Scottish heritage and experience a festival that’s unique in our area.”
The public is invited to return to the church at 11 a.m. Sunday for the “Kirkin’ o’the Tartan” in the sanctuary. The ceremony refers back to prayers of blessings for the tartans and the clans they represented after Parliament outlawed tartans and kilts in 1746. Today, it is a gathering to worship and seek God’s blessings.
Entrance to festival is free to the public, but a donation of $5 per person or $10 per family is appreciated. All proceeds from donations will benefit the community as part of Grace Cares Food Pantry, as well as the Boy Scouts, Sheriff's Explorers and local charities. Last year, the food pantry supplied more than 4,300 bags of groceries to the needy.
“Grace is committed to providing real services to people in need,” Krauss said. “The Explorer’s Club, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts also receive funds from the donations. None of the donations goes toward operational expenses for Grace Presbyterian Church; everything goes back to helping people here in Panama City, Bay County and beyond.”
- Where: Grounds of Grace Presbyterian Church, corner of Airport Road and Lisenby Avenue, Panama City
- When: Festival, parade and games 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 9; Kirkin’ o’the Tartan 11 a.m. Sunday, March 10
- Admission: FREE
- Details: PanamaCityHighlandGames.com