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Arts & Entertainment ‘Taste’ connects Scottish heritage, Cherokee

Saturday's Taste of Scotland kicked off with a spirited parade making its way down Main Street in Franklin. Leading the parade was a group of local Boy Scouts sporting traditional Scottish kilts. Locals and visitors from all over gathered on the sidewalks to watch the parade and the participants that included the boy scout troop, local families representing their Scottish clans, vintage cars, bagpipes and more. The festival was a success according to organizers.Franklin was flooded with visitors last weekend for the return of the Taste of Scotland festival. After a one year hiatus, the festival which had previously been held for 15 consecutive years, was resurrected.

"This year’s Taste of Scotland was a great success," said Linda Schlott, executive director for the Franklin Main Street Program. "After not having the festival last year, they did a great job of informing the public that it was returning for 2013. Lots of volunteers worked many hours and Doug Morton the event chair is to be congratulated for a job well done."

Downtown Franklin came alive with Scottish culture as the streets were filled with vendors offering Scottish treats and festival-goers were decked out in traditional Scottish garb.

Former Cherokee Chief Robert Youngdeer spoke of his experiences in World War II and how he incorporated the lessons learned in leading the tribe.This year's event featured such favorites as the Border Collie demonstrations, Bravehart 5K, Scottish Tartan Parade and other activities, but was also revamped with some new additions.

"The addition of the heavy athletic games held on Palmer Street was a great addition," said Schlott. "This was new for 2013 and festivals always need to added something different each year."

Scott Medlin and Company brought live demonstrations of Scottish games such as jousting and caber tossing. Held on West Palmer Street where the Franklin Motel used to stand, patrons lined the banks to watch athletes reenact several sports that originated with the Scottish. In the Town Hall parking lot, children got in on the action and were able to experience child-friendly versions of the Scottish Games.

Morton also worked to incorporate the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians this year. The relationship between Scots and the Cherokee first began when Scots settled into the Southeast. Early Scottish settlers who came to the colonies after Culloden in 1746 and the Clearances in the early 19th century, lived in Charleston, S.C. and Savannah, Ga. They brought metal merchandise, such as cups, knives and guns, and beads inland to the Cherokee and to the Creek Indians in exchange for deerskins and beaver pelts.

The business relationship between Native Americans and Scottish settlers allowed for the Southeast, including Western North Carolina, to be a place for Scots to colonize and prosper.

One of the “heavy athletic games” involves throwing a weight over a bar of varying heights.“The Taste of Scotland has been given new life and a new direction in which we can grow in culture and heritage with our Cherokee friends and make our festival be something that Franklin and Macon County can be proud of,” said Doug Morton, event chairman.

In recognition of the vital role the Cherokee played in the Scottish heritage still alive in the mountains today, Morton worked with the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians to honor members of the tribe during the festival. Former Chief Robert Youngdeer spoke to festival-goers on his memoirs entitled “A Marine, Chief and Proud American.”

He told stories of his experience in World War II. At 90 years old, not only did Youngdeer serve the country during WWII, he brought back the lessons he learned from his travels and applied them to his term as Chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. "When I was 18 years old, I went to Asheville to enlist in the war," said Youngdeer. "The Asheville office of the Marine Corps wouldn't allow me to enlist because they were not accepting Cherokee Indians. So my brother and I took the underground railroad across the Mason Dixon to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania just to be able to enlist."

While serving in the war, Youngdeer was shot by a sniper and a bullet entered his face through his nose and exited out his ear.

Youth are participating in a “sheaf toss,” in which a bag of straw is tossed over a raised bar. In a traditional game, a pitch fork is used to toss the sheaf.The Taste of Scotland Festival also honored Eddie Swimmer, a Cherokee dancer. Swimmer performed Native American dances on the square.

In addition to the entertainment offered by the Cherokee, the Gazebo was the epicenter for this year's festival, as acts from Scottish bagpipers to the Macon County Line Dancers were scheduled all day on Saturday.

Although the event took a temporary break last year, this year's turnout was evidence of the importance of maintaining the festival in the future.

"I think that the Taste of Scotland can continue to be successful with the support of the many volunteers and the community," said Schlott.

Photos by Brittney Parker

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