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Bagpipes blare at fair Scottish Festival

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PAYSON — Lane Birmingham of Salem came to the annual Scottish Festival for the second time in two years for the music and the entertainment.

"I love the bagpipes," he said. "My boy likes to see the sports events that you can't see on television."

But the clan booths and Scottish heritage played out at Payson City Park were lost on Birmingham.

"I'm of English descent and so is my wife," he said.

The Scottish Festival continues to attract people from around Utah and the nation.

Every year more and more clans join in the festivities, totaling 36 this year, said Burtis Bills, honorary chieftain.

Over on the athletic field, new competitors tried their hand at the military-style events, which date back centuries in the Scottish highlands.

Even the mist and the rain that fell on Payson Saturday failed to detract from it all. Rather, it added to the atmosphere, some said.

While some of the former athletes failed to show for this year's events, plenty of new competitors were eager to take their places.

"We have a fresh new supply sharpening their skills," Bills said.

Elsewhere in the park, surrounding the gazebo and stage, vendors from around the country were selling their wares, all with a Scottish flavor.

Clothing, most of it plaid; jewelry; family genealogy; even Scottish swords recalling ancient Scotland's violent past were all available for purchase.

Scottish dancers entertained the crowd from the stage.

Three dance teams, mingled with Celtic musicians, took turns performing.

"It's completely Scottish — with an Irish twist," master of ceremonies Jeannie Maclachlan Layne said. Originally from Glasgow, she had a one-word description — in her native Scottish brogue — of the festival: "brilliant."

Meanwhile, military veterans of Scottish descent displayed ceremonial gear — mostly swords and shields — at their Scottish American Military booth. Some boasted Celtic designs, noted Buck Anderson of Salt Lake City.

The group will march in the Days of '47 Parade on July 24 with the Utah Bagpipe Band, he said.

Another booth displayed the Knights Templars, a group which dates back to the year 1119, said Carol Rasmussen of Roosevelt.

Now a service group, the Templars are new to Utah, she said.

Anciently, the knights, who were both soldiers and monks, protected the artifacts of the traditional church during the Crusades.

The Templars were ordered disbanded long ago, but Rasmussen claims a continuing heritage.

Following a political upheaval and to escape execution, they fled to Scotland and were taken in by Robert Bruce in the 14th century.

Today, the group uses the same white robes with red crosses and regalia in their ceremonies, she said.

Nearby, six bagpipe bands, dressed in colorful plaid regalia, kept the air alive with music as each took a turn performing.

Majorettes were also on hand to perform during the daylong event.

E-MAIL: rodger@desnews.com