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April 1, 2014 > Celebrate Scottish heritage on Tartan Day

Celebrate Scottish heritage on Tartan Day

By Sara Giusti

It is time to iron those kilts and bring out the bagpipes; a special Tri-City event celebrating our friends across the pond is fast approaching.

Tartan Day, a celebration of Scottish heritage, is observed on April 6th in the United States, commemorating the Declaration of Arbroath Ð proclaiming Scottish sovereignty from England Ð signed in 1320. Although there had been celebrations of Tartan Day in the U.S., it wasnÕt until April 6, 1997 that it was first celebrated nationally; Newark and Fremont were the first cities in California to recognize the day. With help from the Coalition of Scottish Americans, Senate passed a bill officially recognizing April 6th as National Tartan Day in 1998. Ten years later, President George W. Bush signed a Presidential Proclamation recognizing the contributions of Scottish-Americans to the nation.

Indeed, contributions of Scottish-Americans to the U.S. are impressive. Scots were some of the first settlers of the thirteen colonies, and the nationÕs Founding Fathers included those of Scottish descent. Iconic Uncle Sam is based on a Scottish-American, Samuel Wilson. Some of the first men in space were of Scottish heritage, most notably, the late Neil Armstrong. Several influential writers have also hailed from Scotland, such as Edgar Allan Poe and William Faulkner. The list goes on Ð even including the introduction of fried chicken to the U.S.

Today, Tartan Day is celebrated with festivals, parades, music, Scottish games, and, of course, the wearing of tartan, also known as plaid. Scottish clans, or family and regional groups, wear their own patterned tartan.

The East Bay Scottish Association (EBSA), an organization promoting Scottish culture and activities in the East Bay, is celebrating its 17th annual ÒTartan DayÓ at Ardenwood Farm on Saturday, April 5th with a lineup of games, music, shopping, food, and more.

Scottish Heavy Athletics games at ÒTartan DayÓ include throwing the stone (predecessor to the shot put), hurling hammers, and sheaf tossing. According to EBSAÕs website, ÒThe sheaf toss clearly has farming origins, and the moment you see it, you'll understand where they came from.Ó DonÕt miss a game of shinty, also called cammanchÕd, a stick and ball game similar to hockey.

Music will be performed on two stages and includes violinist and fiddler Michael Mullen; vocalist Peter Daldry; Celtic band Plastic Paddy; The Red Thistle Dancers and Ceilidh Band, a nonprofit organization performing Scottish dances and music internationally; The Peninsula Scottish Fiddlers, playing traditional and contemporary Scottish tunes; and The MacIntosh Pipe Band with bagpipes and drums.

Vendors are aplenty for Scottish and Celtic themed goods. Browse the booths of CM KeithÕs Wonderful Things, Willow Jewelry, Celtic Shoppe, Heather Glen Designs, and Jen Delyth Celtic Art Shop for jewelry, clothes, accessories, and more. ItÕs a perfect two-for-one: celebrate Scottish heritage while also supporting indie businesses.

Ministry of Food will be serving bangers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. Madd Kennel Kettle Corn and Twisted Chill Gourmet Ice Cream have your sweet tooth covered. Local microbrewery Das Brew will be serving beer at an Ale Garden as well.

The day will also include ÒLiving HistoryÓ programs. Meet Mary, Queen of Scots, Vikings, spin some wool, visit Scottish Clan and Society Tents, and watch a sword fight. Kids are invited to a ChildrenÕs Glen with free activities and games.

Interestingly, Tartan Day this year precedes a compelling political referendum for Scotland. On September 18th, Scots head to the polls to vote on whether or not Scotland should be an independent country, rather than remain united with Wales and England as part of Great Britain. Naturally, itÕs a heated topic with many things to consider. However, there is one thing we can all agree on before the vote: celebrating Tartan Day with family and friends at Ardenwood.

Check out EBSAÕs website at www. for a schedule of entertainment.

Tartan Day Scottish Faire
Saturday, Apr 5
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd, Fremont
(510) 544-2797
Tickets: $12 adults, $8 seniors, $5 children (4-17 years old), under 3 years are free

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