GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Elizabeth Vowell – email
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) – Kilts, jousting, and haggis is not something you normally find in South Mississippi. However, thanks to the 25th Highlands and Islands Scottish Games, a piece of Celtic culture has found its way to Harrison County.
You've never seen a history lesson like this. Jousting, wrestling, and music bring ancient traditions back to life during the Highlands and Islands Scottish Games.
"We're trying our best to give you a sampling of all that has happened over the course of the past 3,000 years," said the event's Athletic Director Jayson Tisdale.
Crowds gathered from all over to watch the fan fair and get a taste of Scotland through crafts, food, and traditional Celtic athletic competitions.
"I wanted to learn about my cultural heritage. I'm Scottish. I thought I was English until I started coming out here and come to find out, I'm Scottish," said the Highlands and Islands Celtic Association President Tommy Chambers.
Spectators who come to the games often learn something about their heritage they never knew. There is even a genealogist on hand that can help you trace back your family name to its origin.
"People of Scottish and Irish heritage perhaps more of any other than we're aware of have a fascination of where their ancestors came from," said genealogist Clay Patterson.
Patterson used a national database to track family names. Once you know your family history, you can join with your clan and even purchase your family colors.
A big draw to the event was the jousting competition. Two knights demonstrated training exercises for the crowd, before performing an authentic jousting event.
"I just love talking with people and sharing whatever knowledge I can about the history," said Tisdale.
Thanks to the games, the Celtic culture will continue to thrive, even after 3,000 years.