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Photos And Words By Melissa Groth

How many times have you been able to answer the question, “So what are you up to this weekend?” with “Watching big burly men in kilts throw tree trunks across a field?”  If you went to the Virginia Scottish Games & Festival this past weekend in The Plains, Virginia, the answer is, at least once.  I thought I was joking when I told people about my kilts-and-tree-trunks-related weekend plans, but it’s an event called “The Log Challenge,” and it is a very real thing, my friends.  


Having been convinced as to its fashionable relevancy, I decided there was no better opportunity to capture the plaid trend in all its unadulterated glory than at a celebration of Scottish culture.  But there is more to Scotland than plaid, bagpipes, Sean Connery, and little black dogs with goatees (for having some Scot in my blood, I obviously know a pitiable amount about the culture and history). I now know from exactly which sheep-parts haggis is made, which tools were used for what medical operations in the military, aging whiskey in a smaller barrel speeds up the entire process,and that those furry fanny-pack things are called “sporrans.”


The Plains is a bit of a jaunt out 66 West, and the price of entry ($20 for a day pass, $30 for the full weekend) may seem steep; but the beer is relatively cheap, and where else can you wear a kilt and get away with it?  In the end, it’s worth it. They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our tartan.


In his free time, Uncle Si is a fiddler in a Celtic folk band.


Okay, Irish wolfhounds are cool, but there was a shocking lack of Scottish terriers. png;base64f0e6f7312e7d9a6d



In full regalia. He’s lucky it was a cool 96 degrees that day. The mustache must have been uncomfortable… png;base6435148a94d09e9673

Lobotomies 101: How they drilled holes in your skull back in the day.  You don’t want to see what they used for a catheter. png;base64b29d6a51b5cb50b1

The requisite bagpipes:



The Sheaf Toss: a game in which the competitor hurls a pitch-forked sack of straw over a horizontal bar some distance above him/her. By the looks of it, I’d have guess the bag was filled with lead. png;base6491bc27d0561a6ada

Aforementioned hurling of tree trunks:

Aforementioned big burly guy:


Retired Army vets Little and Carlsen competed in all of the events and did as well if not better than the other competitors. Double amputee and amputee, respectively. Pretty fucking amazing.

There were three sheep.  One sheep had a mohawk. I assume at one point there was an entire flock, but there was haggis to be made.

Haggis: where the rest of the sheep went.  You can interpret “the rest of the sheep” as following from the previous photo’s caption, or as indicative of exactly which sheep parts go into making the culinary treasure. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a less-appetizing looking concoction, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t delicious. As for the ingredients, you might be better off going in blind, at least, that’s what the lady serving it up thought. She flat-out refused to tell me what was in it.


The Bridie.  Prettier presentation.  Filled with equally questionable meat.

Age your own whiskey kits.  I’m glad the Irish found some representation in this shindig.