On a day with high humidity and temperatures reporting at 90 degrees by evening, an estimated 15,000 people attended the two-day Chicago Scots 32nd Annual Scottish Festival & Highland Games in Itasca on June 15 and 16 along Hamilton Lakes.
“We’d show up for anything, you can’t stop the Scots,” said Angela Lund-Logan of Machesney Park.
“It’s our greatest quality and also our worst quality,” Lund-Logan said.
The weekend was a fundraiser to benefit the Illinois Saint Andrew Society, a charity established in 1845. According to the Chicago Scots, the society is the oldest charity in Illinois.
The Society includes the Chicago Scots and Caledonia Senior Living & Memory Care of North Riverside.
All festival receipts benefit the society and its mission to champion families while also providing support for older adults at Caledonia.
“I’ve been there (Caledonia), it’s a very nice place for seniors to spend their time when they are no longer able to live on their own,” said Laura Nelsen of Chicago, festival volunteer coordinator.
“They give great care, it’s a wonderful place.”
Nelsen said an estimated 350 people volunteered at the festival.
“It’s a wonderful place to come and meet people and have fun,” Nelsen said.
Friday and Saturday were also about celebrating Scotland, Scottish culture and Scottish identity in a place called Aye-Tasca (Itasca) for weekend purposes.
“We bring this wonderful Scottish festival and Highland games to the Village of Itasca, Illinois,” said Gus Noble, Chicago Scots president.
“Itasca becomes ‘Aye-Tasca’
“It’s like visiting Scotland without having to jump on an airplane and fly across the Atlantic,” Noble said.
“Whether you’re Scottish by birth, by heritage or simply by inclination, there’s something here for you.
“This event really puts a smile on your face,” Noble said.
Young children ate ice cream sitting in the shade of pine trees. Umbrellas were used to shield the sun.
On Saturday, dogs on leashes were part of the Opening Ceremony as the Parade of the Tartans brought families onto a still wet field from Friday evening rains.
“It’s an honor to do the Color Guard,” said Rick Zalud of Lansing, who assisted in overseeing the Civil Air Patrol Air Force Auxiliary of Lansing via Heritage Middle School.
There was music. A Men in Kilts Contest. Add in a British Car Show and, yes, games.
In kilts, right-handed hammer-throw participant Jeff Kaste of Dover, N.H., was among athletes hurling a 22-pound Scottish hammer. Folks were warned to stay back, even though a safety fence was in place.
“It’s hard to be consistent,” Kaste said. “You can have your bad and good days. Today was a good day.”
This year’s Heather Queen was Maggie Sim, 16, of Glen Ellyn and a senior at Glenbard South High School.
“I’ve been given the opportunity to create a platform, so throughout this year I will be visiting multiple churches and daycare centers around the Chicagoland area,” Sim said.
Sim also said she will share Scottish culture with youth of all ages to encourage them to get involved in the community.
“I’m so honored to be here,” Sim said.
For Teresa Barnes of Glendale Heights, being at the event was a tradition.
“We do this every year,” said Barnes, who attended with her father David Barnes.
“Happy Father’s Day,” Barnes said.
“I love him, he knows that.”
— Thousands gather for 32nd Annual Scottish Festival and Highland Games —–