Scots heed pipes' call at Grandfather Mountain

Staff writerJuly 11, 2011 

— Stuart Marshall wandered into the woods to practice on his bagpipes as a gentle fog reached through the treetops.

Marshall, an Enloe High School student from Zebulon, and other members of the N.C. State University Pipes and Drums were preparing for the Parade of Tartans at the 56th annual Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.

As if on cue, the heavy rolling mist that threatened to engulf MacRae Meadows and ruin the view for the hundreds of spectators retreated. The mist stayed just above the trees, making a perfect setting for the Parade of Tartans.

"This looks just like Scotland," said Bill Leslie, the event's master of ceremonies, as the fog hovered over the field.

An estimated 35,000 people attend the three-day event, which many refer to as one of the largest "Scottish tailgate parties" in the world.

Spectators come from across the globe to enjoy Scottish food, music, traditional athletic events, arts and crafts on a meadow in the shadow of Grandfather Mountain, which is about 200 miles west of Raleigh.

Gov. Bev Perdue was among those who made the trip Saturday.

While at the Highland Games, the governor found out through one of the many historians on hand that she may have relatives of Scottish ancestry.

That's a common revelation for attendees - including those who can't exactly trace the family tree, says Harris Prevost, a member of the games staff for more than 33 years.

"You may not be Scottish when you get here," he said, "but you will be when you leave."

chuck.liddy@newsobserver.com or 919-812-7311

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