Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pity the Poor Pipers

This weekend is the 63rd annual Northwest Scottish Highland Games in Enumclaw (the "Claw"), Washington. There will be over 25 pipe bands in attendance from all over the western US and Canada, in addition to highland dancers, athletic competitors and herding dog demonstrations. It's a two day tartan extravaganza that also includes many vendors and lots of greasy food. If you are an Irn-Bru lover, you can come and get your fix here. At the beginning and end of the pipe band competition each day there is a "massed bands" ceremony in which all pipers and drummers play at the same time on the main competition field. It's quite a site and sound!

The pity part comes in as a result of the weather. You see, traditional Scottish dress includes a wool kilt made from 7 yards of fabric, wool socks (hose), black leather shoes (ghillie brogues), a black wool vest (waistcoat) and a black wool jacket (Braemar or Prince Charlie, usually). Remember that the climate in Scotland is considerably different from that of the Pacific Northwest. The forecast for this weekend is for the low 90s in the greater Seattle area, which probably means in the high 90s for Enumclaw. Imagine wearing all that wool, standing in the hot sun (no shade at the King County Fairgrounds) and blowing and squeezing like crazy on a set of pipes or carrying and marching with a heavy drum...that's a recipe for heat stroke if there ever was one. Wish us luck, and come out to hear the music and see us drop like flies in the heat.