Highland Games, Traditional Food and Dance on Display at Texas Scottish Festival
By Sarah Bahari
Posted on May 16, 2016, May 16, 2016

Highland Games, Highland Games, Highland Games,

Highland Games, Highland Games, Highland Games,

Feet planted on the grass, Patricia Carrington bent her knees and hurled a 10-pound burlap sack into the air using a pitchfork.

The straw-filled sack sailed over the 18-foot horizontal bar, a personal record for Carrington in the sheaf toss, an old Scottish sport.

Carrington was among thousands who crowded into the University of Texas at Arlington Mavericks Stadium this weekend to celebrate Scottish culture and heritage at the 30th annual Texas Scottish Festival and Highland Games.

"I love the atmosphere and camaraderie, " said Carrington, who is from Austin and was competing in the Highland Games, a series of traditional Scottish sports.

"The crowds are so supportive and excited for us. "

Thousands of festival-goers, many wrapped in plaid kilts, cheered for the Highland Games, which had their origin in tests of brute strength used long ago by Scottish chiefs to single out the most capable fighters.

Crowds listened to the wail of bagpipes, enjoyed traditional Scottish dancing and even sampled haggis, Scotland's national dish, a pudding made of sheep liver, heart and lungs, mixed with onions and other seasonings. Visitors browsed Scottish wares, including kilts and jewelry, learned about genealogy and attended a fiddle workshop.

Under a white tent, Elena Stavinoha, 16, who is from Tomball, near Houston, danced a traditional Scottish dance with friends. Stavinoha, who has been dancing for most of her life, said she fell in love with Scottish culture and travels to Arlington every year for the Texas Scottish Festival.

"It's a beautiful culture and dance, " she said. "The dancing requires a lot of technique. It's difficult to perfect. "

Watching the Highland Games, James Ray, of Dallas, said he began attending the festival a few years ago when he became interested in his own Scottish ancestry.

"I felt drawn to the culture and history, " Ray said. "This festival is the perfect way to learn more and celebrate what we know. And who doesn't love bagpipes? "

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