The 23rd Annual Queen Mary ScotsFest returned this past weekend to Long Beach. This Scottish cultural festival celebrated everything that makes Scotland so memorable today. From the bagpipes to the kilts to the haggis to the highland games, anyone who has not experienced Scottish culture surely needed to check out this festival. The Scots built the Queen Mary many decades ago, so naturally they get to host this festival. Largely remaining unchanged from previous years, visitors attending for the first time will enjoy everything this festival has to offer. Guests attending again following previous years will not see much in the way of new things, besides new people and new tangible goods. The shepherding demo moved to the front of the venue area, providing more room for the highland games to take place at. The vendor village also expanded, albeit the expansion only made more room for weapons. Those Scots sure do love their weapons. Within the Queen Mary, the main banquet room hosted piping contests and dancing contests. Eventually, all the piping moved outside to give room for the girls to dance in the competitions. Just below that, a dart tournament took place, allowing anyone who registered online to test their skill at this pub game.
The way the Queen Mary handles pricing irritated me the most, and represents one of the main reasons why I originally boycotted events at the Queen Mary for many years. Simply put, the Queen Mary will always try to nickel & dime you as hard as possible in any fashion. For example, take a gander at the admission fee. Presale tickets cost $19 plus $3.63 in service and transaction fees. The website also mentioned that tickets at the gate would cost $22. In this case, people would think to buy tickets at the gate to save money. Unfortunately, the Queen Mary decided to pull a fast one and raise ticket prices at the gate. Visitors buying tickets at the gate had to pay $23 per ticket plus a $2.74 service fee. I understand the online fee because of the third party ticketing broker (Flavorus), but why a service fee at the front gate? Why not incorporate that into the ticket fee? Once you get past the admission shenanigans, you have to deal with exorbitantly priced products inside the festival. Things like bottled waters cost at least $5 while Bud Lights cost $10 or more. The vendors did not relent either, charging $10 for something as simple as a hot dog or slice of pizza. Coming back to the ScotsFest after many years of purposely avoiding events at the Queen Mary (except for Bacon Fest, which I got into for free) reminded me of why I originally boycotted all events at the Queen Mary.
The Highland Games took center stage as the main event of the fest, drawing in the largest crowds. Something about burly men in kilts tends to attract many people, men and women, old and young. I suppose in ancient Scotland times, someone picked up a heavy object, threw it, and his comrades decided to turn that into a competition, thus giving birth to the highland games. Purely speculating, all games involved throwing some object, usually with no technology involved; thus, the Highland Games.
For a two-day fest, the Queen Mary can pack a lot into ScotsFest. Both days followed a very similar schedule, which happens to follow similar schedules of previous years. Sad to say, to anyone who has attended ScotsFest in the past, you did not miss much. Everyone else who has not attended should consider attending next year. Consider donning a kilt and the rest of a Scottish outfit if attending. Getting into the Scottish spirit not only amps your enthusiasm up, but will likely make guests treat you more jovially.