September 27th, 2022

Game(s) On! The McMinnville Scottish Festival Returns This Weekend

A Celtic band performs on stage.  Three drummers and a bagpipe player.
The Wicked Tinkers perform at The McMinnville Scottish Festival in 2021. Photo courtesy of Kyrstie Nusom.

There was a time not long ago that if you were game for authentic Scottish sports, music, dance, drink and clan camaraderie, you had to drive over to the Oregon Coast. But if you didn’t get the memo, they relocated a few years ago … to McMinnville.

The McMinnville Scottish Festival is on! Hosted by the Celtic Heritage Alliance, the 2-day event at the Yamhill County Fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1-2, celebrates all things Scottish with a family-friendly party that includes both professional and novice athletics, music, dance, a drum and solo pipe competition, whiskey tasting and more.

There’s also a kids area, so bring your wee bairns (that’s Scottish for children) for face painting, bubble wands and arts and crafts. They can even try their hand at a caber toss.

“The McMinnville Scottish Festival is still a very new event, considering several in the Pacific Northwest have been running up to 100 years,” says Gretchen Yoder, who heads athletics this year and has competed herself. The pandemic forced cancellation one year, and they’ve moved from the original location, Linfield University, because the event proved so popular that they needed more space. “We are incredibly thankful to have amazing support from our sponsors in Mac, who stood by us through the changes.”

So how do you do this? Easy. First check out the festival’s website to get the lay of the land. The gates open at 9 a.m. Saturday, and parking is free. The fun begins at noon with a piper clan and performances of both the American National Anthem and the Scottish National Anthem.

You’ll want to wander of course, but bring your lawn chairs or a blanket so you can kick back and watch the demonstrations of prowess on the athletic field, where both professional competitors and novices will hurl cabers and stones as far as they can. 

Along with a Highland Dance Competition, and Celtic music starting at 10 a.m. both days, you’ll also find dozens of food and Scottish-themed craft vendors. And that’s in addition to nearly 30 Scottish clan tents. Drop by and with the help of the Yamhill County Genealogical Society, find out if there’s a Donald, Ross, Crawford or some other Scottish clan in your family tree.

McMinnville has sprouted quite a few new cultural events in the last couple of decades, but none has grown so spectacularly so quickly as the Scottish Festival. There’s a lot of passion behind it, which makes for a lot of fun and fellowship, and this weekend’s weather looks glorious. 

About the author:
 David Bates is a McMinnville writer who has appeared in Gallery Theater productions since 1998.