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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Scots Festival and International Highland Games XXIII at The Queen Mary in Long Beach, California



The Scots Festival and International Highland Games XXIII held court at The Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA. A foggy morning laid upon the Long Beach Harbor setting the scene as in Scotland. Near the entrance a Scottish camp was set up with merry men and women reenacting Scottish life in the early 17th century.

In another section, the pipe bands from around the region gathered together to show their best like: Houseof Scotland Pipe Band from San Diego, Phoenix Pipe Band from Phoenix, AZ, and local Long Beach Pipe Band. They provided great constant background music for the festival from practice to marching procession.

A ton of shopping opportunities were available from kilts, accessories, baked goods, collectables, family history surnames, jewelry, and more. Wolf Den Ring Stamping, Blandford Imports, Mclaren’s, Utilikilts, The Welsh Baker were among the many purveyors. You could also hone your archery skills with Hi-Tech Archery or sign up for the darts competition.

In the center of the festival was the International Highland Games XXIII, where competitors display their disciplines of field athletics. A number of events were going on at the same time, stone put (similar to shot put), Scottish hammer throw, weight over the bar, and sheaf toss. It’s amazing the amount of strength and strategy that go into each discipline.

There was also a Wee Athletics area where children can learn about the games like caber toss, stone putting, and archery. Plus, they could have fun in the bounce house and just run off some energy before lunch.  

What is a Scot Festival without fine drinks? A tavern for beers and barrel room for whiskey and scotch tasting were available. The VIP Lounge also had a bar with good selection of beers and whiskeys.

Herding dog trials are a secondary event to the International Highland Games where border collies show the crowd their herding skills. It is amazing to watch how precise they can be and how seriously they take their job.

There were a lot of different choices for lunch. The author was on a mission to get some haggis. She tried it the last time and loved it. The Scottish Pie Shop is family owned and operated from Albuquerque, NM serving some of the finest Scottish fare.

Haggis & Mash is a spiced lamb and beef haggis with mash (mashed potatoes) topped with their secret recipe Guinness gravy, bacon fried cabbage and onions, and homemade shortbread cookies. If you love organ meats like liver, kidneys, and the like, you’ll love haggis. This particular haggis had a great texture and a very livery flavor. It was also served without the sheep’s stomach on the exterior which was a little different. This is the best tasting haggis ever! The mash was fluffy, but the gravy made it over the top delicious. It had a rich flavor from the Guinness and beef base. The bacon fried cabbage and onions were amazing! It works well with the haggis adding a crunch, salty, smoky flavor to the mix. The shortbread cookies tasted like homemade with buttery flavor and were just sweet enough. Rating 5/5

Steak Bridie (pronounced “Bride-ee”) Meal is a steak bridie made with slivers of USDA Choice Angus steak and sliced onions simmered in a savory beef Scottish sauce then is encased in a crust (like a hand pie). It is served with mash topped with their secret recipe Guinness gravy and bacon fried cabbage and onions. The crust was light and flaky, but a little dry. Maybe a touch of that secret gravy on top or served on the side for dipping would help. The seasoned steak was tender and juicy. The onions gave it a zingy sweetness. This meal paired well with a pint of New Castle. Rating: 4/5

The VIP Lounge was nice providing some shade as the sun broke through the morning fog and shone brightly. It was great to have tables to eat and grab some beer for leisurely lunch while listening to the pipe bands marching around the festival. It was a lovely ending to a wonderful day. Make plans to attend next year!

For more information:
Scots Festival and International Highland Games XXIII at The Queen Mary
1126 Queens Highway
Long Beach, CA 90802
+1.877.342.0738

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