This weekend is the 145th Scottish Highland Gathering and Games at the Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, an event presented by the Caledonian Club of San Francisco that gives everyone a chance to enjoy a wee taste of Glasgow and beyond.
Activities will include performances by 33 pipe bands from the U.S. and Canada, the U.S. Marine Marching Band, Highland Dancing and Celtic Heritage music with six stages of continuous traditional and Celtic Rock music.
Five buildings at the Fairgrounds will present vendors as well as American and British food. Other highlights of the Gathering and Games include:
* Living history: Reenactment guilds with Mary Queen of Scots and her entourage; Highland Warriors, Roman Legions and invading Vikings; period artisans and craftsmen.
* Gathering of the Clans: This is the place, with nearly 100 clan tents, to research one's heritage for Scottish blood.
* For the youngsters: Children's Glen with games and prizes.
* Birds of Prey: More than 20 exotic birds, including hawks, falcons and owls.
* Sheep dog trials: Demonstrations by the Northern California Working Sheepdog Association.
* Clydesdale horse team.
* Highland cattle, aka "coos": With long coats of hair, these magnificent animals are ready for the cold Scottish winter.
* Soccer: The quick game of Five-A-Side soccer with eight teams from California and Nevada.
* British Motor Car Cavalcade with British marquee clubs displaying their automobiles.
* Kilted mile: Competition on Saturday for all ages, running the one-mile track for prizes and glory. Kilt required.
* Whisky Tasting: For an additional cost, sample premium single malt whiskies and/or attend a seminar with a Whisky Master.
Check out the heavy lifters
For athletic spectator thrills, check out the world's premier professional athletes at the 36th U.S. Invitational Heavy Events Championship hosting amateur, women's and masters competition.
The championship is part of the International Highland Games Federation Super Series with competitors from Scotland, Australia and the Netherlands, as well as six U.S. states in the 10-man pro class. They compete for the World Championship in the Caber and Weight-For-Height venues.
The Men's Open Amateur and Women's Open classes, augmented by three women's and men's Master divisions for older athletes, encompass an additional 12 states and the countries of Canada, Belgium, Japan and Switzerland. Each entrant must compete in all eight of the Heavy Event categories resulting with a winner in each of the disciplines, plus the overall champion in all divisions.
The Scottish Heavy Events will be onstage both days, with the morning round of events at the soccer field. The events include the 17.6 Pound Regular Stone Putt, the 26.6 Pound Braemar Stone Putt, the 28 Pound Weight-For-Distance, the 56 Pound Weight-For-Distance, the 16 Pound Hammer and the 22 Pound Hammer.
At 1 p.m. the action continues in front of the main grandstands with the 56 Pound Weight-For-Height and ancient tossing of the Caber events.
March Under the Arch
The festivities begin at 2 p.m. today with the March Under the Arch by the U.S. Marine Band San Diego, with officers of the Caledonian Club of San Francisco and dignitaries at the Pleasanton arch.
Both Saturday and Sunday, at 3:45 p.m., the bands will mass at the bandstand to perform together the spine-tingling sounds of Amazing Grace and Scotland the Brave.
What: 145th Scottish Highland Gathering and Games
Where: Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton
When: 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday
Cost: adults, $18 (two-day, $27); seniors and youths, $12; under 12, free
Grandstand show: 33 massed Pipe Bands and U.S. Marine Band San Diego in concert; 3:45 p.m. both days.