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All things Scottish: Annual event draws crowds for athletic events, shopping

By By Mitch Freeman Madison County Record
The recent Scottish Festival at Madison's Dublin Park attracted strong guys that threw around tree trunks, musicians that played bagpipes and some good cooks that sold their goodies. People came from all around to enjoy the festivities.
There were booths that sold all kinds of swords and daggers, booths to help you search for your family roots and many booths that represented a Scottish family name.
W.K. Cummings came from Macon, Ga. to preside over the Scottish heavy events, including the hammer toss. Cummings said the average toss is around 80 feet, but there are guys that toss the hammer well over 100 feet. The hammer is a 22-pound chunk of steel with a three-foot handle attached.
Another event was throwing the "stone of strength" or "clacknock," which is like throwing the shot put, but in this case, it is a 15-pound stone. Cummings said the average throw is about 33 feet.
The caber toss is one of the other so-called heavy athletic events. Competitors pick up an 18 to 20-foot tree trunk, minus tree limbs, and toss it end-over-end.
The idea is to make the caber land in a 12 o'clock, straight-line position from where it was thrown. According to Cummings, the tree toss competition began when King Alfred of Scotland used it to train clan chiefs, bodyguards and mercenaries.
Local talent participating in the festival included Richard VanValkenburg of Huntsville, who played his guitar and sang Scottish songs, complete with a Scottish accent.
A group of musicians who call themselves the Food Fortune Ceilidh Band played Celtic tunes with guitars, a Celtic harp, uillean pipes, high and low penny flutes, a bodhran drum and fiddles. Cindy Stiene and Larry Hogan of Madison play in the group.
John Dall, served as the master of ceremonies for the festival, something he does almost every weekend. Dall, an industrial engineer, lives in Waynesville, N.C. He moved to the U.S. in 1950 from Lady Bank, Kingdom of Fife, Scotland.
His thick Scottish accent still prevails when he speaks.

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