Kilts and Tartan and Scots, Oh My!
In the state of Michigan, festivals and cultural cities and events are abound. From Hamtramk where Michiganders can taste the absolute best Polish punchkes in the state (punchkes are a special jelly filled donut-like delectable treat which are typically only available across the state during a short time in the month of February).
The city of Dearborn, which has the largest population of Lebanese in the United States. Frankenmuth is all about the German heritage, which is the home of the ever popular Bavarian Inn and Zehnders Resturants. These two famous landmarks have been serving German fare since 1888. And then there are the cultural areas around the city of Detroit with names such as, Greektown and Mexican Village. But nearly all of them are filled with family type fun, learning and adventure.
This month’s article is focusing upon Alma, Michigan, located in the ‘heart’ of our lower Peninsula. First, let’s discover why Alma is on my list of cities providing culture to our glorious Mitten State.
The community of Alma, Michigan, also now known as Scotland, USA, is near the center of our lower peninsula and was so named in reference to the Battle of Alma during the Crimean War in the mid 1800’s. The Battle of Alma being named due to its location along the River Alma in Crimea. About this same time, the small Michigan community was in the process of being formed.
In the 1880’s, Alma College was established, they used the nickname of the Fighting Presbyterians for nearly 50 years until in 1931, until the faculty and student body held a contest to rename their current mascot. Although several names were considered, the name which won the contest (which came with a $5 prize) left Alma College to be known as the Scots. Why the Scots? Alma had become affiliated with the Scots due to a particular regimen who fought in the Battle of Alma representing the British called the Scots Guard.
In May of 1968, the city of Alma and Alma College worked together to establish an event for family fun within the community with its very first Highland Festival, featuring the Alma College marching band and many Highland activities, such as band competitions, competitive dancing for people of all ages and even cabor tossing.
What began as a small “one day” event back then, has now developed into a large three day event, which includes not only all of the competitions from its roots, but now offers a parade, an arts and crafts fair, Scottish heritage teachings, and many children’s events as well.
This annual event, always occurring the last weekend in May, now has literally thousands of families coming in from all across the United States and Canada to participate in the festivities of pretty much everything you can think of that’s Scot. The Queen of Scots and Miss Michigan make an appearance, all things bagpipes and tartan, Loch Ness monster sightings, Border collie shepherding, and so much more.
The Alma Highland Festival also boasts tons of food vend0rs, area restaurant specials offering Celtic favorites and historic reenactments of the Battle of Alma to keep its roots fresh in the minds and imaginations of young and old.
Yes, the state of Michigan is ever rich with cultural areas and specialty family fun filled events. In the future, I’ll feature articles on some of the other cultural events taking place across the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of this great state.
But in the meantime, I’d love to hear about the cultural events which take place in your area of the World. What are they like? Have you ever attended? And just how much fun did you and your family have there?!