By Paige Nash
The 21st annual Scottish Tartan Festival was held this past Saturday, April 22, for the first time at the newly-renovated Miller Quarters Park. Approximately 1,700 people gathered in downtown Minden to celebrate Scottish and Irish heritage.
“We feel that the festival went very well. We had a lot of positive feedback, and a lot of new people that had never been to the festival before,” said Scottish Society of the Louisiana Highlands President Shelia Hoh. “Everyone was very complimentary.”
Hoh said there were many upsides to having the festival in the new location including the abundance of grassy and shady areas of the park. “Everyone enjoyed sitting under the trees, listening to the music, and seeing the Highland Games that were going on there,” she said.
The downside was the stage set up in the parking lot of the Civic Center did not get much traffic.
“I think the weather being as warm as it was made the asphalt hot, and people were not inclined to go there,” said Hoh.
The entrance was set up at the end of Main Street, where attendees were welcomed by members of the Scottish Society of the Louisiana Highlands. Festival goers were able to stop at a booth specifically set up to research their own heritage and which clans they may belong to.
Tents were lined up down both sides of the street where various clans displayed their tartans, music, books, food and more. Other local vendors were present selling their own goodies, as well.
A grand stage was placed right at the entrance of Miller Quarters Park. Many musicians, dancers and speakers captivated and entertained the audience as they came and went throughout the day. Food trucks were set up inside the park, and the Highland Games were held at the bottom of the hill.
The Civic Center parking lot was also filled with booths and a separate stage for entertainment. This is where Johnnye Kennon, Administrative Assistant of the Webster Parish Convention and Visitors Commission, felt the knees of three kilted men before she named one – “The Bonniest Knees in the Cypress Swamp.”
There were a lot of first-time visitors this year, Hoh credited this to the buzz leading up to the festival as well as radio and television publicity it received.
“As far as first-time visitors, I had many people tell me it was their first time. I believe this was due to the fact that we are in the downtown area and people were aware that the festival was happening,” said Hoh. “I think people were unaware there was a festival in the past.”
The Scottish Society of the Louisiana Highlands board will be holding a committee meeting soon and discuss the feedback that was received, as well as pros and cons of the new location before deciding if they will continue to host the Scottish Tartan Festival at Miller Quarters Park in the future.
(Photos below by Paige Nash.)