ALTAMONT, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The annual Scottish games shed a light on all things Gaelic culture — stone throwing, bagpipe playing and traditional food were all part of today’s festivities.
The festival draws hundreds from all over the Northeast including solo bagpipe competition hopefuls Billie Jo Anderson and Tim Branch, who traveled from Connecticut.
“It’s fun playing for people that have never heard the bagpipes before, you see a lot of people that are hearing them for the first time and a lot of people who have been playing for years,” Branch said.
Both Anderson and Branch trained for years to master the pipes, something they say is no easy task.
“Each person is different, they say it takes three years to make a piper a lot of us were on pipes within a years time and you continually learn so you could play a lifetime and there’s always room for improvement,” Anderson said.
Another highlight of the Scottish games — family connections. People gather to learn more about their ancestry and clan families and how they came to be here in the U.S.
St. Andrew’s Society of Schenectady has a specialized booth set up for people to find their home clan.
“We have books here that you can look up your name, your last name and see if it matches with a clan. 30% of the scots were of a clan and 70% were district families,” Robert Halley, Former Vice President of St. Andrew’s Society, said.
Donning his ancestral colors of the Pringle clan, Halley said the Scottish games are his favorite days of the year.
“A phenomenal opportunity to think about Scotland, to think about the heritage of Scotland,” Halley said.
The games continue on Sunday with even more traditions still to come.