Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Scotch day

Wick's World

 


I have never had a problem reconciling the vision of a large red-headed, big-bellied guy with a bottle of Scotch in hand, wearing a skirt in lieu of pants. OK. Technically they are called kilts, as in, “I would rather be kilt than have to wear that.” I would assume the name came from the number of Scottish mothers who died in a vainglorious attempt at putting their darling adolescent sons in dresses.

Even Mel Gibson looked pretty cute in the movie “Braveheart.” Rarely do you get to cheer for a hero who gets his head chopped off just before his clansmen attack their enemy with sticks and stones. Never mind the fact that they were outnumbered 10 to one, but somewhere around the 1500s the Scots managed to win freedom from their oppressors and become what is today called Scotland.

Yesterday we stopped by one of our favorite spots in Eagan; the large city park at the Eagan Convention Center where an annual Scottish Days Festival was in full swing. The city park also features a Farmer’s Market every Wednesday afternoon during Minnesota’s short summer. My wife and I bring Mae and Sweet Pea for a shop and walk and a chance for our doggies to sniff out the new doggies in the 'hood. This is also where we fill our shopping bags with every local produce imaginable, including veggies, jars of honey, smoked jerky, caramel corn, eggs, cheese, etc. Dill, basil and cilantro garnish zucchini squash, potatoes, tomatoes and many other edibles. A large bag may cost a dollar and a larger bag might set you back two bucks.

As if the take-home bags of produce you get to prepare at home were not a large enough draw, the park also offered a different band every week at the bandstand. Craft and food vendors are scattered throughout the park for those either hungry to eat or empty their pocketbooks on items from jewelry to woodcarvings.

The weekly Farmer’s Market I just described set the stage for last weekend's onslaught from Braveheart and his gang of rowdies. An annual Scottish Festival turned our beloved Eagan Park into a Minnesota version of the Outlanders. Some of the Festival’s Scottish games appeared to have their origin in the Biblical Garden of Eden. Adam got mad at Eve and threw a stone at her. She got her revenge as wives always do and threw one back; only hers was larger and she threw it farther. A couple of young Scottish Highlanders must have been sitting up on a hill watching this action when they invented the world’s first game called “Let’s see who can Throw the Heaviest Rock the Farthest Distance Before the Scotch Whiskey is all gone.”

Anyway, we did get to see some stone-throwing competition amongst several other games I couldn’t quite understand. Not that it really mattered because we were amazed by listening to a combo of bagpipes and drums. These are possibly two of the most obnoxious musical instruments ever invented, but when played together, they produced a sound that was inspirational enough to make me fall in line behind Mel Gibson’s character Braveheart and charge up the hill to battle. Why the bagpipe got invented, God only knows. Actually, the loneliest sound I ever heard was a bagpipe at a funeral.

The Scots did teach us how a clan could invent a food called a “banger” and get its people to actually eat it. The very sound of the word lent hesitation about putting one in your mouth and swallowing. Each item on the menu at the food booth; bangers, Scottish, pie, Scottish bridies and Scotch eggs contained some form of distasteful meat. With apologies, and to be fair to the fair’s fair-skinned redheads, my wife and I eat very little meat, thus the food review.

Absolutely everything else was exceptionally fun! Each year the music and games, bagpipes and drums, the plaids and kilts and many other Scottish customs are in full display. The fair draws thousands of people each year to the city park in Eagan for what is a very fun time. We thank you for a great weekend spent with kilt-wearing Scots.

 

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