Clay Icard has not missed a single Loch Norman Highland Games event for 12 years, and this yearâ€™s event was no exception.
â€œEach year we come back we see people we havenâ€™t seen in a year, but itâ€™s still just like yesterday,â€ Icard said. â€œThe clan is just like family.â€
Icard is Clan McPherson, one of 90 clans and Scottish societies represented at the 12th annual Loch Norman Highland Games.
He and his wife, Deborah, have been bringing their 7-year-old daughter since she was six months old.
Each year, they camp out at the two-day event. Adorned in their Scottish attire, they demonstrate camp cooking and other folk life arts events.
This yearâ€™s event, held Saturday and Sunday at historic Rural Hill Farm in Huntersville, pulled in 1,000 participants for the various sporting and cultural events and attracted approximately 11,000 visitors.
Many festival-goers were happy to learn of and about their Scottish background.
â€œIâ€™ve always been interested in my Scottish heritage,” said George Hay, who is part of the Hay Clan. â€œItâ€™s a natural extension and it allows me to learn more about my family in Scotland.â€
He is also a member of the Scottish American Military Society (SAMS). Founded in 1981, this veterans organization promotes Scottish- American Armed Forces customs, traditions and heritage.
SAMS also provides color guards and escorts for dignitaries.
Hayâ€™s fiancee, Charlotte Hiers, was also very involved in discovering more about her background.
â€œMy grandmother was Scottish â€“ she was a Carmachiel,â€ Hiers said.
She said she has enjoyed meeting all the different types of people that she has encountered.
â€œYou meet people from all over,â€ Hiers said. â€œItâ€™s fun, too. You get to dress up and have different outfits.â€
But you didnâ€™t have to be Scottish to enjoy the games this weekend.
There was plenty of events and entertainment to do and see for everyone, including Highland dancers, the National Harp Competition and the Scottish Heavy Athletics Heptathlon.
Booths filled with merchandise from the different Scottish clans, including mugs, clothing and jewelry were also plentiful.
Jack Hill of Mount Holly, a member of SAMS, was at the event for the first time in full attire.
â€œI am very fond of the whole thing,â€ Hill said. â€œI have been involved with many Scots-Irish functions and the Loch Norman event is big in cultural diversity.â€
The veins in the neck of professional Scottish heavy athlete Kerry Overfelt (right) bulge as he attempts the 28-pound weight throw. Chris Dean / LTN Photo
by Amy Wadsworth