Dundee Scotland newspaper writes about Scottish Festival

Jonathan Watson
The 2011 Dundee Scottish Festival was held Saturday, Sept. 10. The day began with a Kirkin' of the Tartans ceremony at the Presbyterian Church, followed by a parade and several events at the festival grounds. The festival was dedicated to the memory of Specialist Christopher Scott.

An Internet search led a curious newspaper editor in Scotland to an article at Chronicle-Express.com about the Dundee Scottish Festival. The newspaper followed up with the following report on the Dundee, N.Y. festival which was held Sept. 10. The Courier article is reprinted here, with permission:

Is it time for Dundee to take some Highland games inspiration from its American cousin?

Dundee’s lord provost would champion the return of the city’s Highland games if there is enough support from the public.

The games were last held at Caird Park Stadium in 1998, but were axed due to a perceived lack of interest from the public.

Ironically, while residents of Dundee, Scotland, have to go out of town to enjoy the games season, the village of Dundee in New York State is enjoying a surge of interest in its Highland games.

Keen that Dundonians follow the lead of their American cousins, Lord Provost John Letford believes returning the event to the summer calendar is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Asked if he would back such an idea, he said: “That’s certainly an intriguing prospect. We take every opportunity to highlight Scottish culture but it can be hard to keep it at the forefront in modern times.

“These things depend on money, and obviously that would have to be sounded out, but I would hope that there was enthusiasm for the games.

“I would be interested to hear from people involved with pipe bands and sports clubs and that sort of thing.”

The fact that the City of Discovery does not have an annual Highland games is made more surprising when looking at the city’s U.S. namesake, which has a population of just 1,700.

Last year the small community’s first games attracted 1,200 people, with as many expected to turn out for the second, which takes place today.

While larger crowds would be required should caber tossing return to Caird Park, the success of last weekend’s Dundee Flower and Food Festival provides optimism that people will back large-scale community events.

Mr. Letford added: “It’s an interesting idea and if there was demand then it is something that I would try to take forward. There are people involved with this kind of thing, and if I can sound them out, then that would be very interesting.”

The last games in 1998 were organised by a group of local people after a seven-year absence.

With fewer than 1,500 people turning out, the event marked a huge contrast to its heyday when up to 10,000 people would attend.

Strathmartine councillor Ian Borthwick was at the last games, and he admits that he would welcome a return.

“I think that the difficulty would be working out how successful it would be if we brought back the Highland games, but I think that active consideration should be given to it,” he said.

“I’m aware that there was a fall in interest and that habits change, but habits can also change back and it might be possible in Dundee again.

“It’s not something I’m actively pursuing, but if other cities and towns can do it, why can’t Dundee?”