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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
The Family Tree - August/September 2003
Tennessee Highland Games


(MURFREESBORO) For the first time in its eight-year history, the Tennessee Highland Games, an annual celebration of all things Scottish, will be held indoors Oct. 3-5 at MTSUıs Tennessee Livestock Center on Greenland Drive in Murfreesboro on the campus of Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU).
   A solid itinerary of Celtic music and Scottish games, dance and food will await those who attend this yearıs games, which is being organized by the Heart of Tennessee Scottish Celebration Inc., a nonprofit organization.
The eventıs free seminars, all of which will focus on Scottish history, traditions, genealogy and lore, will get under way beginning at noon and continuing through 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3, at the Garden Plaza Hotel, 1850 Old Fort Parkway, in Murfreesboro. The Patronıs Dinner will be held 6-9 that evening in the hotel, as well.
   According to event organizers, the gamesı move to the livestock center was made so that participating clans can "stay warm and dry no matter the weather" during this yearıs activities. In turn, participating clans will be arranged on the main ring floor around the centerıs arena on a first-come, first-served basis. For the Scottish clans gathering, this yearıs honored clan will be Clan Carmichael.
On Saturday, Oct. 4, the games will be held 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., with gates opening at the Tennessee Livestock Center at 8:30 a.m. The Parade of Tartans will take place at the center beginning at noon. The dayıs closing ceremony will be the Friendship Circle, which will get under way at 4:30 p.m. Later that day, at 8:30 p.m., will be the Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee), a Gaelic word that has come to mean a party or celebration. The format of the Ceilidh may vary, but in general, it includes singing, dancing, storytelling and socializing.
   As for the dayıs activities, athletic contests will include Turning the Caber, Clachneart (stone throw), Tossing the Sheaf, Weigh Toss and Weight Throw and Jack Danielıs Whiskey Barrel Rolling.
   Featured musical activities will include bagpipe and drum competitions, as well as Scottish musicmaker Alex Beaton and the critically acclaimed Celtic rock group known as Seven Nations, whose members have been heralded for their seamless fusion of driving modern rock and "foot-stomping" traditional music.
   Competition in Highland and National dances also will be Oct. 4. The judges will use the standards set for performance and judging by the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing. The Sword Dance, Highland Flight, Seann Tribhas, Strathspey and Highland Reel, Sailorıs Hornpipe, Irish Jig, Scottish Lilt and Flora MacDonald are the dances that will be in the competition. For dance registration details, contact Judy Hackett via e-mail at
Additionally, throughout the event, a childrenıs area will feature face painting, the passport game, tug of war and a haggis toss, among other activities.
   "There is a lot of family heritage, culture and history," said John Maulden of the Heart of Tennessee Scottish Celebration Inc. "Anybody can come and enjoy the athletics, music and other activities."
   Then, on Sunday, Oct. 5, the annual celebration will begin with Kirkin of the Tartan, an unusual worship service commemorating Scottish heritage. The service will be held at 10:30 a.m. (dinner at noon) at First Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 901 Main St., in Murfreesboro.
   Established in April 1941 by the St. Andrews Society of Washington, D.C., the first Kirkin of the Tartan was initially conceived and conducted by the late Dr. Peter Marshall, a native Scot and one-time Chaplain of the United States Senate.
   According to the ceremonyıs history, its central theme is the presentation of the tartans and flags of the Scottish clans, symbolizing the re-dedication of Scots everywhere to Godıs service. And although the service is American in origin, there is historical evidence of its Scottish roots, say games organizers.
   TICKETS:  Advance tickets for this yearıs celebration are $8 for adults and $3 for children (ages 4-12) if purchased before Sept. 27. On the weekend of the games, tickets will be available at the gate for the price of $10 for adults and $3 for children. Children 3 and younger will be admitted free. MTSU students with a valid student ID will receive discount tickets at the door.
   To order advance tickets via mail, make checks payable to The Heart of Tennessee Scottish Celebration Inc. and mail them to P.O. Box 2053, Murfreesboro, TN  37133-2053. To pay for advance tickets with Visa or MasterCard, call 615-848-9193.
   o For more information regarding the games, please contact John or Sandi Mauldin at 615-848-9193, or visit the Tennessee Highland Games Web site at

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