Beckoning to its Scottish roots last weekend, downtown Franklin came to life with the sound of bagpipes, the smell of shortbread and the flare of clan Tartans. The hot summer weather kept no one from evoking the Celtic spirit, during the 15th annual Taste of Scotland Festival. The festival, held annually during Father’s Day weekend in downtown Franklin, celebrates the music and culture of Scotland and the British Isles. The several hundred festival-goers were sure to be looking for shade throughout Saturday’s festivities, with temperatures reaching into the upper 80s.
The first event scheduled to kick off the event was the first annual Braveheart 5K run—a new addition to the festival lineup.
All in all, 142 people gathered on Main Street to participate in the run, many of whom were dressed like William “Braveheart” Wallace and other Celts of olde. Proceeds from the race went towards Franklin’s Scottish Tartans Museum, a non-profit organization dedicated to the history and traditions of Scottish Highland culture.
The museum features exhibits of the Scottish migration to North Carolina, as well as information about clan ancestry and customs.
“I am very thankful for the community support, and even for the support of people from the southeast really,” said event organizer Dave Linn, who cited participants from as far as Florida and Alabama. After the run, dozens of spectators watched as the 2011 Little Miss Tartan was crowned on Town Hill.
Last year’s Little Miss Tartan, Emma McSwain, relinquished the crown to six-year-old Renae Younce. The crowning officially commenced the event, which was then followed by a parade of Tartans down Main Street.
Scottish clans like Bell, Craig, Hay and Stewart held their tartans high, marching to the rhythm of the pipes. Men in kilts accompanied dancing and waving children.
When the troupe reached the top of the hill, a ceremony took place to raise the flags of the United States, Scotland, Great Britain and the Royal Standard of Scotland. Ronan McGregor, museum employee and event organizer, said the festival was a success in many ways. “I think it went very well this year,” he said. “There were a lot of changes, as far as closing Main Street and Iotla Street. It helped a lot.” McGregor reckoned this year’s turnout was a record, though the afternoon shower had an impact on the festival. “It didn’t really run anyone off, but I think it did cause a lot of people to go inside.”
More than $2,000 was raised at the festival, with proceeds benefitting the museum—another record breaking increase. “The 5K helped a lot,” said McGregor. “We also had a lot more raffles which really gave us a boost.”
“This festival means a lot to a lot of people,” said Chris Harwell, a Taste of Scotland committee member and volunteer. “Many of the people that settled here were from Scotland, and today we are celebrating that.” Harwell was raffling off a Saltire pattern lap blanket which represents more than 70 local clans. Each Tartan square was imported from Scotland and made of 100 percent authentic tartan wool.
After the parade, people ate traditional Scottish foods while enjoying authentic music. Traditional wares and handmade goods were for sale in booths set up along the street. Sterling silver jewelry, woven goods and pottery awaited purchase.
Also performing at the courtyard was the John Mohr MacKintosh pipe and drum corps, under the direction of Pipe Major Richard Smith. The band was formed in 1977 and has 24 members and performs during Scottish fests all across the Southeast.
The event drew in folks from as far away as Colorado, Utah and Arizona. Next week, said Newsome, the committee will begin readying for next year’s Taste of Scotland.