Posts Tagged ‘Haggis’

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.

The 20th 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. But how often can groups prance around wearing kilts and grunting in Scottish accents?

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.

A nearby vendor sold imported European treats and other goods.

Speaking of food, you cannot attend a cultural fest without trying the food of that culture. Thus, I opted to order the Haggis, and I added a Pork Pie. Sadly, this year did not measure up to last year, as they did not provide brown sauce (such as HP Sauce), and they kept the pork pies in a cooler. I do not usually eat meat pies cold, and after I discovered that the filling resembled ground pork, I immediately thought of a pâté chaud, which I could buy hot for just a dollar at markets in Westminster. To anyone instantly turning away from the haggis, do not knock it until you have tried it. It does not taste as bad as many people believe, as it simply tastes and feels like salty meatloaf.

If you go to a Scottish festival, you will hear bagpipes guaranteed. Throughout the fest, numerous piping groups marched around the Queen Mary and competed to win best in show and other prizes.

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.

Every year, ScotsFest hosts a single-malt scotch whisky tasting for the adult crowd. This year, they added a craft beer tasting class, hosted by Deschutes Brewery. A $10 entry ($11.75 after fees) provided any guest with five tasters of Deschutes beers. As each taster amounted to about one ounce each, each person received the equivalent of about half a can of beer. Paying $11.75 for this little beer sounds terrible, but it sure beats the $8 Bud Lights served throughout the fest.

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.

This Saturday and Sunday, The Queen Mary in Long Beach gets immersed in a sea of Scottish culture at their 20th Annual ScotsFest. This cultural festival celebrates the Scottish heritage of the Queen Mary from the time of its construction in Clydebank, Scotland. Open to all ages, ScotsFest allows attendees to experience Scottish music, bagpipes, kilts, dancing, athletic competitions, food, drinks, single-malt scotch whiskey tastings, dart contests, and much more. Depending on the package, ticket prices will vary. A one-day ticket costs $18 for adults and $8 for children, and parking costs $15 per vehicle. Scottish clans from all over the world gather here for one weekend to proudly display their background and heritage as well.

Within the halls of the Queen Mary, a Dart Competition allows all guests to test their mettle in this glorified classic pub game. Anyone wishing to participate must fill out and submit an entry form found on their website, linked above.

When you think of Scotland, you cannot forget about the bagpipes. As Scotland’s most well-known symbol and sound, groups will play bagpipes throughout the fest, both as show and as competition. Multiple categories of piping will come into play, such as solo, ensemble, full band, and more.

Following the Celtic tradition, the Highland Games will test all participants’ strength and finesse. Both men and women can compete in competitions such as throwing stones, throwing hammers, weightlifting, and more.

For those who prefer not to get physical, plenty of other activities exist that will keep attendees occupied. Dozens of vendors will set up to sell various Scottish apparel, accessories, merchandise, treats, ingredients, and even weapons.

Any cultural festival will always serve the food of the respective culture, and ScotsFest delivers on the authentic Scottish food. Enjoy some meat pies, pastries, stews, and the elusive Haggis.

For the children, an entire kids’ zone will include bounce houses, face-painting, a petting zoo, and more. A sheepherding demo will take place regularly throughout the fest as well.

More activities include a parade at noon, and single-malt scotch whiskey tastings for the adult crowd, which requires an additional fee to partake in. Following the main fest on Saturday, the Queen Mary will extend the festivities with the Rock Yer Kilt Concert, featuring local Scottish, Gaelic, and Celtic bands. Guests that attended ScotsFest that day can receive $5 off admission to this concert. For a fest that lasts two days, a small group could experience everything in one full day. Consider that parking costs $15 per vehicle, so small groups may opt to take the FREE Passport bus that drives from downtown to the Queen Mary. This fest takes place mostly outdoors, so apply sunscreen and take some with you to the fest. Also have cash available, as many vendors only accept cash, and on-site ATM’s will charge ridiculous fees. Lastly, remember to have fun, keep an open mind, and participate in as many activities as possible to maximize your visit.