Highlander Festival prepares fun for all ages
Saturday, as the City of Radford and Radford University kick off their 17th annual Highlanders Festival some area’s youngest citizens will be playing major roles.
This year’s festival will feature a host of activities for a younger generation including demonstrations from the Sterling Swordplayers, Radford University art professor Richard Bay’s medieval mask making, and a child-size version of the traditional heavyweight games. The games will include a sack race, weight throw over bar, and the famed caber toss, in which the athlete attempts to throw a large pole representing a tree as far as possible.
The children’s area will also include an inflatable castle, sheep herding activities, and live falcons on display.
Along with the activities, for the second straight year fourth-grade students from Bell Heth Elementary School in Radford will have Highlander themed art on display and attendees will be allowed to vote for their favorite work.
Bell Heth art teacher Michelle Saunders said the students’ work came as a result of them learning the history of the Scot-Irish people, how they immigrated to southwest Virginia and their culture’s strong interest in nature. The students were then allowed to create individual works that depicted some aspect of nature, using a medium of their choosing, and including the classic Scot-Irish plaid look.
Many of the students said they enjoy the project because they were learning about art, but also the reasons many of the Scot-Irish moved to southwest Virginia.
“Because it reminded them of their homeland,” student Abby Jenkins said.
“It feels like the didn’t even move,” classmate Kara Armentrout added.
That same thought is what former RU Associate Vice President of Communications Debbie Brown said they hoped to highlight when the festival first started in 1996.
“They [the Scot-Irish] looked around and thought, we’re home because it looked like Scotland,” Brown said.
Brown said the idea of a festival celebration some of the area’s history stemmed from former RU president Douglas Covington’s inaugural address in which he proclaimed recalling history as a key element of planning for a successful future.
Looking for a way to celebrate the area and school’s roots, Brown said a festival honoring the Scot-Irish culture seemed a natural fit and they began contacting various pipe and drum groups, competitors involved with Scottish-themed heavyweight games, and the Scottish Foundation of the Virginia Highlands.
Seventeen years later their efforts have blossomed into the yearly event which expects over 10,000 attendees RU special projects manager Karen Casteele said.
The day will start at 9 a.m. with the adult Heavyweight Games on Moffett Field — vendors will open at 10 a.m. — and will wind down with an 8 p.m. showing of the film, “Brave” in Hurlburt Auditorium.
Throughout the day their will be a variety of musical and theatrical performances on the Main Stage in front of Moffett Hall and on the Community Stage in from of Peters Hall.
The annual parade down Main Street is set to start at 10:30 a.m.
For more information and a complete listing of events visit the 17th Annual Highlanders Festival webpage.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643
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