The rich heritage and culture of Scotland spring to life at the Hylton Performing Arts Center during a weekend filled with music, dance, games and wry humor passed down for generations.
The festival grew from a single performance by the Black Watch and the Band of the Scots Guards together with the Pipes, Drums and Highland Dancers of the 1st Battalion. Since its founding in 1642, the band has entertained British troops in battle. Now the spectacle of pageantry, uniforms and bagpipes seen by visitors to Buckingham Palace crosses the Atlantic to thrill audiences of all ages.
Rick Davis, executive director of the Hylton Performing Arts Center, explained how the single performance grew into a two-day festival that welcomes Robin Naismith, Scottish government counsellor at the British Embassy in Washington, as honorary patron and speaker at the culminating affair on Sunday, the Burns Night Dinner.
"The Sunday concert is a Hylton Presents program, so when we realized that the hall was dark on Saturday, it seemed a wonderful opportunity to plan something special. With the help of many nearby residents who participate in the Scottish games or trace their lineage back to Scotland, we developed an exciting program.
|Hylton in the Highlands: A Festival of Scotland|
|Where: Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas|
|When: Saturday and Sunday|
|Info: Various prices; 888-945-2468; hyltoncenter.org|
"Throughout the day on Saturday, people can attend demonstrations of Scottish country dancing; presentations about Scottish folklore, history and literature; a bagpipe and drumming master class; and a journey through 300 years of Scottish fiddle music with the international Scottish fiddler Bonnie Rideout.
"There are many activities for children. A group called Scots for Tots will teach safe versions of Highland games, including the caber toss. Wendy Welsh, a folklorist from Newfoundland, will tell them stories, and the singing fiddler Jack Beck will sing folk tunes and ballads. At Sunday's dinner, he will offer the Immortal Memory of the life and career of poet Robert Burns, a tradition that has been passed down since the 18th century."
George Mason University professors Susan Tichy and Joy Fraser will discuss the rich Scottish folklore. Fraser will talk about haggis, the national dish that was first heralded by Robert Burns and continues to be the focus of every dinner in his honor. In researching her family, Tichy discovered the Scottish heritage of lies, or telling amusing stories that bend the truth.
Two of the afternoon events cost $35, a price that also includes admission to all other events. Because few products are more Scottish than whisky, attendees 21 of age or older may enjoy the Scotch Whisky Master Class presented by Dougie Wylie, the Scotch Whisky Man. Yes, tastings are included. The other $35 option is the Afternoon Tea offering scrumptious shortbread and oatmeal sweets, variations on the traditional British tea pastries.
"The emphasis both days is on fun and substance," Davis said. "I want those attending to take away something about Scottish culture that may be new to them, perhaps the various Scottish games or the delicious cuisine they'll enjoy at the Burns Night Supper. Fiddler Bonnie Rideout and Scottish country dancers will entertain at the supper, along with the traditional haggis presentation. Whatever activities they choose, I especially want those in attendance to discover the sense of humor that's inherent in these people who always have a twinkle in the eye."