Cayce’s Tartan Day South – lots of kilts and a little drama

mlucas@thestate.comApril 6, 2013 

— The low-droning sound of bagpipes filled the air at Historic Columbia Speedway in Cayce on Saturday as pipe and drum bands fired up the crowd and kicked off the opening ceremonies of Tartan Day South.

“It’s getting better and better and better,” said Leigh DuBose of the annual event now in its third year.

Dressed in a dashing black vest with blue kilt with leather “sporran,” or the purse worn with traditional Scottish highland dress, DuBose had learned only minutes before that she would be leading the “Parade of Celtic Nations” as drum major for the Columbia-based Palmetto Pipes and Drums band.

The Columbia resident and her husband, Billy, who is the band’s pipe major, were having a good time Saturday.

“The energy and attitude of the people are all great, and Cayce has really seemed to embrace it,” she said.

Officials said attendance was up at this year’s event – a sign that the family-friendly event, which celebrates all things Scottish, Irish and Welsh, could be making a name for itself, not only locally but regionally as well.

“They definitely have more for kids to do this year,” said Amanda Crowe, who drove from Concord, N.C., with the entire Lamont clan to attend the event.

Crowe, who left Concord early Saturday morning to make the festival, said the family likes to go to any of the Scottish or Celtic festivals that are within “close driving distance.”

Crowe was wearing her family’s tartan and in fact, all four of Crowe’s children, as well her father and her husband, were sporting the Lamont tartan. Why had her husband decided to wear her family’s colors instead of his own?

“He just thinks it looks better,” she said, laughing.

In addition to carnival rides and fun things for children to see and do Saturday, there was food and drink, live music, dancing, pub-style performances, Celtic merchandise and of course Scottish Highland games.

Festival-goers were treated to a little midday drama when four-time Highland games world champion, Adriane Wilson, tried to break the world record for the women’s weight for height throw.

The competition, which involves hefting a 28-pound weight single-handedly up over a high bar, seemed perfectly suited for the former professional shot putter who had tried for a spot on the Olympic track and field team.

Each time Wilson picked up the anchor-like weight, swung it around several times and hurled it up over the implacable bar, spectators cheered her on.

Wilson’s broad smile and quick wit had already won over the crowd earlier when she joked, “I know the secret now for how to do it” after sharing a word with a fellow competitor.

As the sun beat down on the Irmo resident, the crowd seemed to hold its breath as she tried several times to clear the record height of 19 feet 2 inches. She had already cleared an amazing 18 feet.

But each time the weight went up, it came back down with a soft thud – just inches from the record.

Telling the crowd she was only going to try once more, she asked for a little clapping to cheer her on. As the applause grew in intensity, Wilson tried once more.

The weight went up and for one moment, it looked as if it would be a winner.

Seeing it wasn’t going to be her day, Wilson fake pouted when the weight fell short. Then she broke out in another crowd-pleasing grin as spectators called out her name.

“Thank you anyway,” she said and waved.

If You Go

The festivities continue Sunday with Kirkin of the Tartans, an 11 a.m. church service at the West Columbia Riverwalk amphitheater.

Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.

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