A mighty impressive array of single malt Scotch whiskies awaited imbibers at the recently-held Scotfest at the Orange County Fairgrounds, Costa Mesa, CA. Mostly offerings from independent bottlers, the range covered a nice representation of the distilling regions of Scotland. Some of the labels included Arran, Blackadder, Hart Brothers, Chieftains, and Isle of Skye.
I was visiting Scotfest, however, to learn more about the lesser-known aspects of Celtic, Scottish, and Irish culture. The popular piping & drumming, Highland dance, heavy athletics, and clan participation were all there, of course, but I was interested in the more esoteric side of things.
WOLVES OF ODIN was a fascinating display of Viking culture, which predated the Celts and added to the Celtic civilization. Information about weapons, food, symbols of wealth (or lack thereof), crafts, and reenactments were all expertly presented by Bruce Willis, Steve Mata and Disa Sicre.
VILLAGE BLOCKSMITH, Peter Dzulak, was on hand with his building blocks, specifically designed to create castles. Gothic arches and balconies, crenulated towers, dormers and graceful Roman arches allowed dreamers, their parents and grandparents to put form to their imaginations.
SLIGO RAGS refer to themselves as “A Celtic Bluegrass Fusion”. The music of Michael Kelly and David Burns was engaging, entertaining, and fun to watch. I had never heard the duo before, but will start to follow their Southern California performances.
WHEAT WEAVING seems to be enjoying a revival of sorts, with an increasing number of well-qualified artisans furthering the art. Cora Hendershot and Don Redifer displayed beautiful examples of Scottish, Irish, and Eastern European creations. The Belorussian Wedding Crown was incredibly complex, made from rye straw, and took Cora over 80 hours to make. Kirn dollies and other display pieces gave a tangible glimpse into past customs fitting into the modern world.
The STRIKING HAIR DO crowning Jeremy Gatewood led to a discussion of “The Bog Man”, discovered in 2003 in Ireland. Seems the gentleman, who lived between 362 and 175 B.C. was small in stature – about a few inches north of five feet. His well-preserved hair style, according to archaeologists, was an example of trying to look taller and fiercer – maybe emulating the horns of the devil. Thanks, Jeremy, for the insight.
All in all, a great day in Costa Mesa.