Friday May 25th and Saturday May 26th, Greenville will be wearing a little more tartan (remember this word) than they normally will be. Why, you may be asking? That is because the Greenville Scottish Games will once again be taking the streets of Greenville and the fields of Furman University. Let’s just say you will not want to miss out. The Great Scot! Parade is Friday, May 25th at 6 PM and marches its way down Main Street in downtown Greenville. The Greenville Scottish Games proper are all day Saturday, May 26th at Furman University.
We recently had the chance to talk to Jay Spivey, the Publisher of Fête Greenville and one of the head honchos of The Greenville Scottish Games, where we got the inside scoop on all of the details you need to know to make the most out of these thrilling events.
Before we go into what exactly the games entail, we thought it would be great to give our readers some of the basic info they would need to know if they are planning to attend the games. As previously stated the parade takes place May 25th downtown Greenville and the games themselves take place at Furman University on May 26th, and they last all day.
The Great Scot! Parade will march north up Main Street Greenville, where it will end in one of the largest, and most entertaining Main Street Fridays of the year. There will be pipe bands, marching Scottish Clans, floats, Scottish Faeries, Braveheart, and Scottish Military re-enactors.
On the day of the games, there will be plenty of parking attendants on site so parking during the games will be a total breeze. If you get hungry or thirsty, there will be tons of food for sale as well as Pepsi products. Want to really get in the spirit? Then get yourself a Gallabrae Scottish Ale brewed by Thomas Creek. If you want to know more about this special edition ale, check out our episode of Upstate on Tap. Want to plan your day? Here is a quick schedule:
8:30 AM: Gates Open
9:00 AM: Opening Ceremony
11:00 AM: Military Salute & Massed Bands
5:30 PM: World’s Greatest Scottish Happy Hour and Celtic Jam
The Scottish Games
What exactly are the Greenville Scottish Games? Sure, the name seems pretty self-explanatory, but there is more to an event than just its name. Jay was more than happy to enlighten us on the culture and events of the day.
Maybe most importantly to the games, what is the significance? According to Jay, “We have one of the highest concentrations of Scottish ancestry of any region in the country.” With so many locals with so many ties to the heritage, it was only a matter of time before some of the locals came up with the idea to start the games. “There are Scottish Clan Societies in every state of the country. We will have somewhere over 20 Scottish Clans represented at the Games.”
But what are the games? The games consist of heavy athletics, as the website states “Stones and Hammers will be thrown! Cabers and Sheafs will be tossed!” What do these terms mean?
- Sheaf Toss – a pitchfork is used to hurl a burlap bag filled with straw over a horizontal bar.
- Caber Toss – a thrower or tosser tosses a large tapered pole known as a caber (think a telephone pole).
- Stone Putting – Similar to a shot-put, but with an actual rock or stone.
- Hammer Throwing – It isn’t the hammer you are imagining, the hammer in question is a large metal ball which is attached to a grip by a steel wire.
In conjunction with these heavy athletics, there will also be drumming and piping competitions.
With all of these strenuous sports, it may sound like the Greenville Scottish Games might not be a place for children, but you would be wrong. That is because of their kid-friendly section, Wee Scotland. This is essentially a mini-version of the games. Imagine your kid tossing a mini-caber. Pretty adorable, right? Jay wants to ensure everyone “The Greenville Scottish Games is truly an event for the whole family.”
This iteration of the games is particularly special as “they are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1. Numerous Scottish Regiments served alongside Greenville’s 30th Infantry Division who trained here at Camp Sevier, so they will be drawing attention to all of this during our Military Salute at the Games.”
Guide To The Scottish Fusilier Attire
So you may think you are ready to attend the Scottish Games, but we have a few more tips for you to maximize your enjoyment. Think of this as your glossary (that way you won’t embarrass yourself in front of all of the people who are “In The Know.”)
- Tartan – Do NOT call it plaid. The pattern found on kilts is known as tartan, and each Scottish Clan has their own distinct tartan.
- Kilt – Much like tartan, be sure not to call a kilt a skirt, you’ll definitely draw some funny looks if you do.
- Sporrans – These are the bags worn around the waist. Sporran literally translates to “purse.”
- Hose – Not socks, but hose are worn with a kilt. (Example: Hose are worn with a tartan kilt).
- Sgian Dubh – Pronounced “skeen-doo”, it is a traditional single-edged knife worn with a kilt. The knife is used for cutting meats and cheeses as well as for protection.
- Flashes – These are used to hold up the hose.
- Cromach – This is a traditional Scottish walking stick.
You did it! You are finally ready to attend The Greenville Scottish Games. Before you head out for a weekend of fun, food, and games, we asked Jay what he would want to tell our audience. His response? “[The games are] The most vividly entertaining music, heritage, sports and heritage celebration you can attend!” So grab your kilt and your pipes and make sure you are downtown on May 25th for the Great Scot! Parade and at Furman on the 26th for The Greenville Scottish Games.