Scottish Festival and Highland Games are a great summer outing

| June 16, 2017 | Comments (0)

Scottish clansWhen you make a list of interesting and fun summer activities, you really need to put the Scottish Festival and Highland Games near the top. As children we went often with my grandparents. My grandmother immigrated from to Chicago when she was 15 years old.  She hailed from Lanarkshire in Scotland and retained her brogue until she died. My grandfather was also Scottish, although he was born in Illinois, so my grandmother often said he wasn’t as Scottish as her.

Chicago Scots Director Gus Noble, who hails from Duns in the Scottish Borders, continues the traditions and games that make the Scottish Festival and Highland Games a wonderful family outing whether you hail from Scotland or just enjoy the one-of-a-kind activities. Where else can you see men in kilts, dogs dressed in Tartan and lovely Heather queens all while enjoying the heavy athletics? What are heavy athletics? Well, those are traditional Scottish sports that create the most identifiable activities at the Highland Games.

According to the official website, “These contests have their roots in the 10th century when Scottish King Malcolm Ceanmore first hosted competitions of strength and speed among his warriors and clansmen. The winners were given honorable positions as messengers and bodyguards.” The athletes competing have their biographies posted on the website. This impressive group will compete in these activities at this weekend’s festival:

  • Caber Toss
  • Sheaf Toss
  • Stone Put
  • Scottish Hammer Throw
  • Weight Throw for Distance
  • Weight Toss for Height

In addition, there will be a Haggis eating and a shortbread contest. If you’re not up for trying Haggis, there is also a Haggis hurling contest. Food vendors will have a wide range of traditional Scottish and American treats for those seeking refreshments and food. Of course there will be a whiskey and spirits tent, which offers a whiskey master class.

A dedicated children’s area gives younger guests options such as a mini golf course, a craft station, mini heavy athletics, bouncy houses, train rides and a petting zoo. Kids will also enjoy the traditional animals including the dogs of Scotland, Highland cattle and Clydesdale horses. There will also be plenty of piping and drumming. After all, it wouldn’t be an authentic Scottish gathering without bagpipes.

It all adds up to a truly memorable summer experience benefitting Chicago’s oldest 501(c)3 charity. The CHICAGO SCOTS (The Illinois Saint Andrew Society) raises money for two principal charities, the Scottish Home and the Caledonian House. The Scottish Home is especially close to my heart. My grandmother spent her final years at the facility. From the day she walked into the main house with slight memory problems until the day she died, the staff treated her with kindness and compassion.

The Scottish Festival and Highland Games is the largest Celtic Family Festival in the Midwest. This year’s festivities take place on Fri., June 16 and Sat. June 17 at Hamilton Lakes, 1 Pierce Place, Itasca, IL. Ticket prices for the 31st Annual Scottish Festival & Highland Games are as follows:

Friday-Children 12 and under are FREE; Adults are $12.00; Seniors (60+) are $10.00

SaturdayChildren under 3 are FREE; Children ages 3-12 $8.00; Adults are $20.00; Seniors (60+) are $15.00

Two Day Pass – Children under 3 are FREE; Children ages 3-12 $5.00; Adults are $30.00; Seniors (60+) are $22.50

Patron Weekend Pass (Family Friendly)– $200 This two-day pass includes entry into the festival (for 2 adults & 2 children), premier seating inside the Patron Tent, complimentary food and beverages, 16 drink tickets (beer included), and parking passes for both days.

Patron Weekend Pass (21 & Over)– $130 This two-day pass includes entry for one individual into the festival, premier seating inside the Patron Tent, complimentary food and beverages, 8 drink tickets (beer included), and parking passes for both days.

The festival is held at Hamilton Lakes, Itasca, Illinois, located at I-290 and Thorndale Avenue. Parking will be available on pavement in parking garages. Parking will be $5 per vehicle for parking on both Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 17 or guests may purchase a two-day parking pass for $8.For more information, event schedules, competition registration forms or to purchase tickets, visit,

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Category: Shari's Corner

About Shari: Shari is a mom, wife, marketing communications professional, gardener, Chicago Blackhawks fan, college sports fan, traveler, quilter, community volunteer, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, Siberian Husky owner, Girl Scout troop leader and book lover. You can find Shari blogging about life with twins at Two Times the Fun and tweeting @slcs48n1. View author profile.

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