Personal and up close is what Athena Caledonian Games is all about, said president Sue Friese.
“We have many experiences that qualify,” she said.
For instance, she said audiences love the experience when the Boise Highlanders Pipe Band marches in and makes a circle in the vendor’s area. Friese said they even let people stand in the middle of the circle of pipers.
“Now that is closer than seeing the band on the field,” Friese said. “It is up close and personal and way cool.”
For more up close and personal experiences, be sure to catch some of the festival, which kicks off Friday. A Caledonian fundraiser, the dinner is from 5:30-7 p.m. at Athena City Park. The Candle Lighting Ceremony follows at 7:30 p.m. It serves as an informal blessing of the clans, family and the festival.
The festival gets into full swing Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. It includes a parade, park vendors, entertainment, dancing, piping, kids’ games and storytelling. The Scottish athletic events start at noon, which features the tossing of hammers, weights, hay bales, and the well-known caber. Beginners, masters and professionals — kilts not required — will compete all afternoon. The popular festival, Friese said, draws people from near and afar.
Friese encourages people to catch Shindig, which starts Saturday after the parade (approximately 10:15 a.m.). It features lots of dancing and a variety of other acts — everything from dramatic poetry reading and telling jokes or tall tales to singing and playing instrument — all with a Scottish flavor.
Thanks to a grant from Umatilla County Cultural Coalition, Cassandra Humphrys of Mid-Columbia School of Highland Dance of Richland has been teaching Highland dancing. About 12 dancers, ranging in age from 5-12, have been preparing to dance at Caledonian to show off their kilts and their dancing ghillies (shoes). The demonstration is Saturday at 1 p.m.
“These are Athena youngsters that are doing a dandy job,” Friese said. “This is quite personal and we are proud.”
Another highlight of the event, Friese said, is Saturday evening’s Caledonian Tattoo at 6:30 p.m. An outdoor concert, it features marching pipe bands — including Clan Macleay Pipe Band from Portland and the Boise Highlanders — who will join together for a fantastic finale with the Blue Mountains as a backdrop
Sunday’s schedule features Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan, a church service, at 9:30 a.m. Also a new program will follow.
“We are recreating the Picnic and Games that were celebrated in Athena at first in 1899,” Friese said.
The Caledonian Ceilidh, which translates as party, will offer an open mic time for people to share their stories, talents or family secrets, she said. People are invited to bring blankets or chairs and a picnic or purchase food and beverages from vendors.
“Again, this is downright fun. That’s what Caledonian is all about,” Friese said.
Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-564-4539