The student news site of Oviedo High School in Oviedo, FL

Oviedo Journalism

The student news site of Oviedo High School in Oviedo, FL

Oviedo Journalism

The student news site of Oviedo High School in Oviedo, FL

Oviedo Journalism

Grab your kilts for the annual Oviedo Highland Games

Oviedo simulates days of festivity in Scotland, celebrating tradition, heritage, and culture
Cooper Garvey
The parade of pipers march through the forest road in front of the tents and booths.

The traditions of Scotland are one of the most unique and varied among those of western Europe. Such things have come from Scotland like Haggis, Kilts, Auld Lang Syne, Bagpipes, debatably The Loch Ness Monster, and most importantly, The Highland Games. This most benevolent Scottish tradition, as of January 13th-14th has come to the Oviedo area in the Central Florida Highland Games. 

The festival itself attempts to capture the spirit of Scotland, as well as its weather. Every time the festival takes place, the weather is oddly reminiscent of Scotland, being cold, wet, and gray. But ‘tis no matter, as it coincidentally adds to the authenticity and aesthetic of a day in the U.K. The event contains elements of Renaissance fairs, such as tents of old clothes and weapons, archery, reenactment areas, Buhurt, live music, food and drinks, bagpipers, and the Games themselves. From the caber toss, hammer throws, sheaf toss, and throwing a giant inflatable gator across a fen, there are no shortages of fun to be had!

“The Caber toss is an awesome sight! It is so amazing to see such a historic, and really old game being played, and the skill it takes to play it being used.” 

Michelle Parker is a reenactor representing the Realms of History organization, which oversees Buhurt, blacksmithing, and archery. 

“We encourage the actual historical aspect of the Scottish Games. So a lot of us will bring in things from that time period, which is why I know so much about the weapons. We are just here to bring in more crowds, because a lot of people don’t know about the history and mediaeval aspect of the Highland Games,” Parker said. 

The history of the games themselves is actually incredibly fascinating, and the Realms Of History are there to educate the common man.

“It’s an awesome thing, these games actually started as a means for Scottish peasants to defend themselves” Parker mentioned. “ All of the games were actually forms of weaponry for them, because the English did not allow for the Scotsmen to be armed. So the hammer throw and caber toss were ways for the Scottish to have weapons that were not really weapons.”

These games date back to the 1000s, but some sources believe they could date back even further. 

Two Worthy Knights battling in the Buhurt tournament by the realms of history cantonment. (Cooper Garvey)

Another who works in the department of history is Kaylee Moss. Moss spent the day in a time capsule of the 17th century that festival goers can interact with, and check out the goings-on of the small camp. 

“So we are with the Historical Florida Militia, Searle’s Buccaneers. Right now, we are doing a living history encampment…like the 1640s, and we are basically camping out here” Moss said.

The encampment is set during the era of the English civil war, which Scotland itself played a large part in by taking part in the war, and having thousands of her people die directly and indirectly.

The process of being there is actually very fascinating. 

“We basically camp out here” Moss chronicles. “ We slept here last night, and we will also sleep out here tomorrow night, by the fire out here.” 

Both the Searle’s buccaneers and the Realms of History folks stay out all night in their tents and by their fires to live a truly historical experience. 

“We just come here to hang out and show how the actual historical peasants live, and like the military encampments. You don’t often see that part of history”. 

Some during the Baroque era lived rather secluded lives, and could’ve likely (at times) been accustomed to living in the wild.

Like the Realms of History, the Historical Florida Militia is there to educate and entertain those who pass by to check out their situation, enjoying all of festivities and party business themselves as well. 

“I like seeing all of the clans come together and everyone’s just celebrating,” Moss mentioned. “ They’re getting in the spirit of the Highland Games and I think it’s just a really big community event that brings everyone together.” 

Thousands of people come in attendance to the games each year, and it allows many to come together and join in the joyous celebrations of Scotland’s tradition. Anybody curious should look into the Historical Florida Militia, and learn all of the great things they offer to the historical fairs around Florida.

Kaylee Moss (bottom left) and the crew of historical thespians at the encampment. (Cooper Garvey)

There are an incredibly large variety of tents and booths around. Scores of Scottish, mediaeval, and Renaissance-themed booths are scattered among the many-mile long property the festival takes place at. From a near-alphabetical organisation of tents featuring members of almost every Scottish clan, from Abercrombie to Young; to a varied assortment of weaponry for sale, only mediaeval, so no powdered weapons; to clothes; and practically anything that one can find interesting that fit with Scotland, even including tea and cakes with Queen Elizabeth II. But one tent features a group devoted to the fans and media of the book, and television series, Outlander

Outlander is a show about a woman named Claire Randall, who is separated from her husband Frank by accidentally travelling through standing stones at the site of Craigh Na Dun. She is then taken into the safeguarding of a man named James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser (Jamie for short). The show follows their exploits, and is rather fascinating, from perspectives of both history and fiction. Not to mention that this show has gained large followings of fans worldwide. No few of those fans are excluded from Florida, and this is evident in the Florida Outlander Fans group, who set up their tent near the Clan Lands.

Shari Harmon is one of the Florida Outlander Fans, and is proud of being such. 

“It started ten years ago…membership has grown from ten people to almost 3000…we have our own little get-togethers that we do every month to kind of celebrate our fandom,” Harmon said. 

Shari especially appreciates the opportunity to represent this club’s test. 

“I think every year will be something different, and I try to dedicate all my time every year to something different,” Hammond mentioned.

This has been the fourth year that Harmon has represented the Outlander fans, and in that time, a great regard has grown for the games and Scotland in general. 

“My only regret is that I’m not Scottish at all, but I feel like you can appreciate a heritage and want to be a part of it…so I love the different activities: the dancing, the games, the music, the food, the different clans. It’s just so impressive. Harmon appreciates Scotland so much, and to be able to be a contributing member is an amazing achievement for them. Should anyone be interested, the Florida Outlander fans have a Facebook page where anyone can see the activities and creative things the group does.”

Shari stands next to a life-size cutout of Jamie Fraser (played by Sam Heughan). (Cooper Garvey)
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    Dani MatosApr 9, 2024 at 11:03 AM

    This event looks so fun and exciting. There are so many fun activities to do during the festival like the games and tents. I haven’t been but I will have to put that on my to-do list for next year. I love how our community comes together to celebrate Scottish history.

  • T

    Tucker JohnsonMar 25, 2024 at 6:14 PM

    I love the highland games, when they come around it is a very exciting weekend! It’s so cool how they have gained popularity in such a short amount of time and now a lot of people know about them.