Farewell to summer with a Highland Fling
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“Over the years, I’ve been to the Scottish Festival here at least 20 times, but I never get tired of it,” said Kish. “Although the basic formula has remained the same for decades, there’s always some tweaking going on of a few things here and there.”
It remains Old Westbury Garden’s biggest event, drawing nearly 8,000 festivalgoers annually. “People keep coming year after year,” Cairns said. “Those who want to renew their roots, families, and those who just enjoy the experience.”
While the festival has evolved into a broad-based family fair with birds of prey, a pirate show and even dog agility demonstrations, it’s the games themselves that continue to be the main attraction. The Caber Toss is still the most popular element. “While the games mean many things to many people, this is the essence of the games,” Kish said. “It’s quite something to see these big guys trying toss the ‘caber’ (think 16-foot long, 160 pound telephone pole) and then watch the real action when the 300-pound men in kilts get going, who know what they are doing. As the pole gets heavier and heavier, that’s when it gets interesting.” Visitors who think they have what it takes to toss that caber are welcome to participate (after signing a safety waiver).
The caber is a long, tapered pine pole or log. The “tosser” balances it vertically by holding the smaller end and then runs forward and tosses it so that it turns in the air with the larger end striking the ground first. Ideally, the pole strikes in a strictly vertical position, and the athletes are scored based on how closely the throw lands at a 12 o’clock position.
Another popular event, Putting the Stone, is similar to the traditional Olympic style shot put, but uses a large stone in which the weight varies.