Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, and a surprise

So I was spending the 4th of July at my parents' house, and my mother happened to mention that she'd seen an article in the local paper about the upcoming Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, scheduled for July 8-11. She wanted to know if I was interested in going.

Well, naturally, I said, "Of COURSE I'm interested!" <g> I've never been to a Highland Games or any other type of Scottish festival, although I've heard a lot about them.

We were joking about what clan we would belong to -- my entire family ancestry is Eastern European Jewish on both sides, no Scots anywhere that I know of <g> -- and to my utter astonishment, my mom said, "I have an old plaid that my mother brought back from a trip to Scotland years ago."

So she went and got it out of the closet, and it turned out, to my amazement, that what she had was a hand-woven MacKenzie tartan!

It's somewhat darker than the pattern shown here, but it says "Clan MacKenzie" on the label, and if you look closely it's definitely the same pattern. (I didn't have a camera with me yesterday, but I'll try to post a picture of it soon.)

My grandma died in 1979, when I was fourteen. I'm not sure when she made this trip to Scotland, but I think it must have been in the 1960's, possibly earlier. What an amazing coincidence, that of all the tartans out there, she would have chosen the MacKenzie. Even more amazing, that my mom still kept it, all these years later. (I had seen it before, of course, but never attached any significance to it, until yesterday. To me as a child, it was just a scratchy old blanket of dark blue wool.)

So, we will be at the Games on Friday, July 9. (Driving up from Raleigh the afternoon before.) As of right now our plan is to return home that evening, because we'll likely be worn out from the day's activities. If you are going to be there on Friday, let me know, and maybe we can meet up. (EDIT to add that I have been in contact with the group of LOLers who are going to be there, and I can't wait to meet you all in person!)

And who cares if I don't have a drop of Scottish blood? Diana Gabaldon doesn't, either, and she certainly didn't let that stop her! <vbg>

Somewhere up there, my grandma is looking down at us, and smiling. We miss you, Grandma, and thanks so much!


Aven said...

You should really go. Highland Games are lots of fun. I'd like to go to the Grandfather Mountain games next year. My friends that went to Scotland with me have never seen the Biltmore and we thought of doing a vacation there in July so we could do both.

Merrymags said...


Aren't families amazing? One just never knows what will turn up or develop. I do hope you get to the Games. My dear friend, Dawn, is headed there for the first time and I'm counting on her to take many pictures, meet Hosers she's only known electronically, and to send greetings to all. Oh, and observe many MIKs!

Dawn stated that she and her hubby will be staying down the mountain and will take a bus in for each day's events. Of course, I have no idea if that's what everyone does or of there are accommodations there, on the Mountain. Good luck and should you attend, you must post pics.



Regine said...

this sounds exciting, Karen! That really is a coincidence that you (sort of) inherited a MacKenzie tartan LOL. You might not have scottish blood, but your hair looks scottish *g*
Have fun,

Cristina H said...

Definitely a message from your grandmother! Hope you get to go to the games, have a wonderful time and post pictures!

Rebel Fan said...

How exciting! You will love the game at GM. We'd love to have you join Clan Gunn.

Anonymous said...

Dear Karen,

This will be our 5th year at GFM and, as I am each year, I'm so excited I can't stand it.

We stay in a cabin at Bear Den Camp Grounds in Spruce Pine. It's right on the Blue Ridge Parkway and lovely. There are a lot of us that stay there - some in campers, tents, tent cabins and regular cabins. We are all part of the Ladies of Lallybroch and have a wonderful time each year.

Just a few hints on the mountain itself. As I was using a knee-walker last year after a total ankle replacement the end of April I learned a few tricks. The terrain is uneven, hilly and often gravel covered. At the entrance gates there are tents with officials who will radio for a golf cart to drive you much closer to the games, clan tents, vendors, etc. I took advantage of this after the first night when I just struggled through it. (Long shallow learning curve here. *G*) Bring water bottles, umbrella, rain poncho, sunhat, sunscreen, etc. The porta-johns are actually pretty well kept up. I carry extra kleenex/hand gel but they usually have TP and gel available. The food from the vendors is excellent. We especially like the fish & chips, the bridies, the roasted turkey drumsticks and, of course, the shortbreads and desserts.

Most of the parking is down the mountain and then you get shuttled up in an old school bus. Quite an experience. Last year I had DH drop me off at the top and he drove down, parked and shuttled up. It was easier that way.

Any other questions can be answered at the group site that Angie directed you to. I hope we get the chance to meet up.


Karen Henry said...


Thanks, that's extremely helpful! I called the GFM number on the web site (the "contact us" page) this morning and the man I spoke to was very helpful. He said if we got there when the gates opened on Friday am (8 am) we should have no trouble finding a handicapped parking place, and he also said there was no need for the shuttle on Friday (unlike Sat. and Sun.) - I'm not sure why, but that's what he said.

It will be an adventure, and we're prepared for some difficulty with the terrain, but as long as it's mostly grass and the gravel parts aren't too deep, I should be OK with my scooter. My dad will be there to help push if needed. :-)

I found the Yahoo group, thanks to Angie (see my posting on the LOL Social board this morning) and I'm sure I'll be posting more there as I think of more questions to ask you all.

Can't wait to meet all of you in person!


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