By RONDA GREGORY
News & Journal Staff Writer
Get out your family tartan and join Clan Ramsey, named the 2016 Honored Clan of this year’s North Central West Virginia’s Scottish Festival & Celtic Gathering at Bridgeport City Park for festivities that run from Friday, May 6 to Sunday, May 8.
No worries if you don’t have Scotch-Irish DNA. The ancient family of Ramsey, of Anglo-Norman origin, will welcome you anyway. All are encouraged to come out to gather for merriment, music, games, food and more.
(For a bit of Clan Ramsey’s history…Simundus de Ramesia was the FIRST name to appear on record in Scotland!)
So the event, in its 15th year and hosted by the Scottish Heritage Society of North Central West Virginia, is not only about fun…though it is…it’s also about educating people and encouraging interest in the region’s strong Scottish and Celtic cultural roots.
Kevin Anderson, chair of the event, said his ancestry can be determined from about 600 years ago.
“I can trace my Anderson roots to the Isle of Skye back into the 1400s,” he reports.
He said a genealogist will be on site to help people learn how to find their own family ancestry.
“A lot of people want to know about their background,” Anderson stated. “And many families just don’t know it.”
Anderson said there are 120 Scottish-Celtic events of this type throughout the country and that a big attraction is that it digs deeper.
“It’s based on one particular theme,” he said. “It’s just different. It’s about having fun and learning about their own particular lives.”
Anderson reports they’ve had from 2,500 to more than 7,500 attendees. “It always depends on the weather,” he said grinning.
Anderson remarked that a “not-to-miss” event is the Opening Ceremonies at noon on Saturday. They include the Massed Bands (with pipers, of course), Parade of the Clans and Scottish Breed Dogs exposition.
But other events and activities do occur prior to the official Opening, such as registrations, music performances, athletic games, children’s games and much more.
There will be many entertaining children’s games from which to choose.
“We’ve tried very hard to get the children involved, make the event family-friendly and educational as well,” Anderson stated.
Music performances include Iona, Scooter Muse and JilChambless and The American Rogues.
Anderson says his favorite part of the festival-gathering are the Heavy Athletic competitions, especially the caber toss. A caber is a long pole and weighs between 75 and 175 pounds. The object is to flip the caber in a 12-o’clock position.
“The size and weight of the pole used for each competition is dependent on the age and size of the members of the group competing,” he explained. “We don’t want to hurt anybody, but we want to make them work for it.”
Some unusual but interesting and fun events will be a Beer Keg Toss, the Men’s Bonnie Knees Contest and herding demonstrations.
Of course, pipe bands will fill the air, dancers will dance (the West Virginia Highland Dancers) and so many more entertainments to watch, hear or participate in.
Entrance tickets Saturday are $15 for adults; children 12 and under can attend free.
“But the entrance fee for adults includes all concerts,” Anderson remarked.
Surrounding Saturday’s extravaganza will be a ceilidh, a party, on Friday at Via Veneto on Rt. 58 and activities on Sunday at the First Presbyterian Church in Clarksburg.
For more details about the event schedule of dates and times and activities, visit their Facebook page at Scottish Heritage Society of North Central West Virginia or their website at www.northcentralwestvirginiascottishfestivalandcelticgatheting.com.