By Sarah Kucharski • Staff Writer

Western North Carolina boasts more people of Scottish descent than Scotland itself — and for that Franklin hosts its annual Taste of Scotland this weekend, June 16 and 17.

The festival kicks off Friday night with a “ceilidh.” The word is of Celtic origin meaning fellowship.

“It’s meaning in our day and time has kind of morphed into meaning a musical party,” said festival organizer Claire Suminski.

The party begins at 6 p.m. with a barbecue dinner at the Big Bear Shelter on the Little Tennessee Greenway featuring musical guests the Border Collies and local bluegrass band Out of the Blue. The Border Collies are a contemporary, high-energy Celtic folk band from Duluth, Ga. Their signature sound incorporates tight instrumentation with three- and four-part vocal harmonies.

“We haven’t had something like this before,” Suminski said.

Tickets for the ceilidh are $12 for adults and $6 for children. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Scottish Tartans Museum or reserved by calling the museum at 828.524.7472.

On the actual day of the festival, June 17, the events begin with real border collies — as in the dogs — demonstrating their agility at 9 a.m.

“People love that,” Suminski said.

Throughout the day there will be authentic Scottish foods, music, dancers, clans, the parade of clans and tartans, Scottish crafters and children’s Highland Games.

Highland Games include the caber toss — much like long distance telephone pole throwing (though in children’s case smaller, lighter poles are used); the sheaf toss — a strength and speed test simulating tossing hay bales into a barn with a pitchfork; and golf — Scots are said to have invented the sport.

On Sunday, the First Presbyterian Church of Franklin will hold its annual Kirkin of the Tartans ceremony — a blessing historically based on the Jacobite Rebellion and resulting Disarming Act of 1745, which forbade Scots from wearing their tartans.

As legend goes, Highlanders hid swatches of their tartans in their clothing, secretly touching these swatches during worship services. The Kirkin was revived in WWII by Rev. Peter Marshall, then the Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, in an effort to encourage Scots to join the Allies’ fight.

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