What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

14 November 2010

Ceud Mìle Fàilte

To my ever-growing list of reasons why I love Austin, I have added another: The Austin Celtic Festival.

The Keebler Elf and the Unicorn
Last weekend, the Princess of Unicorns and her father, the Keebler Elf, arrived in Austin to join us at the Celtic Festival, and a weekend of hilarity, cupcakes, and Irish accents ensued. 

Yes, the Unicorn Princess runs on cupcakes. I had no idea. Okay, I had some idea, but didn't realise how serious it was until she got out of the car and immediately asked for the nearest cupcakes. Good news: We found some. And they were fabulous.

This past weekend was one of those that strikes every city from time to time: There were so many events crammed into two days, you'd think we were never getting another weekend. I can only suppose this was because there was no home game on Saturday, so downtown was free for other stuff? Anyway, Chad's job had a bazaar in the morning, which he and our mythical guests went to, and I was volunteering for UT, because I screwed up the date in my planner when I signed up. Oops!

Yes, I took this pic of Scotland flags
outside of Scotland with much joy
and gladness. 
But, after all that fun, we made our way to the festival. I was already in a state of crazy-happiness before we got there; I'd been looking forward to this event since July when I first heard of it. And we could already hear the music and see some exciting things from outside the enclosure, so up we dashed, handed over our receipt, got some really pretty souvenir tickets and hand stamps, and we were in.

 I was about to die of starvation-- yes, I'm one of those-- so we made a beeline for the food tents, where I got some fish & chips. My snobby husband says they were much better than any fish & chips he's ever had in Scotland (and he's had them a grand total of two times, mind you), because they were less greasy & didn't have much vinegar. I thought they needed some improvement in the vinegar department, actually.
I took this pic because of their kilts;
it turned out that this couple was in
the highland games. Yes, both of them.
The festival had the largest gathering of tartan I've ever seen outside of a kilt maker's mill, which was perfectly fabulous as far as I was concerned. And also a variety of Celtic musicians. And Highland games (which I've never seen in person). And some large dogs (which I try not to see in person).

I enjoyed the vendor tents as much as anything else: Some brilliant stuff turns up at these events. There was one tent with bumper stickers (England Forever. Scotland just a bit longer.) and t-shirts ("If you can read this, I found your ring" in the Mordor font) and other things that I wanted to purchase, but I refrained.
I believe the owner said these are
Irish Wolf Hounds. They would be
bigger than me on their hind legs,
as you can plainly see.

I talked a couple of little boys into trying some haggis at the Scottish food booth. I saw this t-shirt a few times: "It's a kilt. If I were wearing anything under it, then it would be a skirt." Hee hee hee. I was (unfortunately) in a position to notice during the highland games that all of the gentlemen participating were wearing something under their kilts. I'm guessing this was to satisfy some sort of local ordinance; however much Austin may be like Glasgow, it is not, in fact, Glasgow.

Fun merchandise.
I admired a large collection of books in Gaelic, but they were all in Irish, not Scots, so I passed on buying any. (The title of this post, by the way, is Scots Gaelic for "one hundred thousand welcomes". It is pronounced (more or less) "Said meal fall-ch-yuh" (the final word is all one word; I hyphenated it for ease of reading). Feel free to try it out on your guests.) We were encouraged to attend a cèilidh (kay-lee) dance workshop, which I also passed on. I tried to explain to the man that I've been to the cèilidh and it was a disaster; he was unconvinced.

So, the Highland Games! Because of timing issues, the only part we saw was the caber toss, although that was pretty darned exciting by itself. The video is of a successful toss; I recorded multiple unsuccessful attempts before this one, and then of course there was a succession of perfect tosses after I stopped recording. But you get the picture. The caber must go end-over-end; for it to be perfect, it must be in the "12 o'clock" position when it is upright. One man managed three 12 o'clocks, and there was a three-way tie for second place; those three men each had two 12 o'clocks and one that was either 11:50 or 12:10. So, they brought out a larger caber for the tiebreak.

The larger caber. He had lost
control of it and basically
dropped it.
Another unsuccessful toss, but this
time without the fence blocking your view.
These two pics are from the tiebreak tosses. The announcer said at the beginning that he wasn't sure that any of them could "turn" this caber, which ended up being a prophetic statement. I didn't catch the weight on the first caber, but this one was 130+ pounds; they were throwing something heavier than me around. (After this they went to the throwing a weight over the bar, which is 50ish pounds; we joked that they were going from throwing me to throwing the Unicorn Princess.)

At the Gypsy festival.
After all this excitement, we wanted to meet up with a friend of the Princess for dinner. I had mentioned that there was a Gypsy fair also happening on Saturday, so we decided to go check that out. Apparently, so did the rest of Austin; the crowds were amazing, the lines were insane, and more people were still coming in after we gave it up as a bad job and decided to seek food elsewhere. The Gypsy fair gathered together a bunch of the trailer food vendors from around town all in one place; a good idea, but yowzers, what a lot of people! It was all to raise money for a charity, although I'm still not clear what charity.

Told you the crowds were crazy.
We didn't stick around long enough
to see them light up the glowy things.
There was a pub I had seen a few blocks from where the trailers were gathered, and it was one I've been wanting to try ever since I first saw in on our first marathon trip to Austin. I have now tried it, it was very good, and I will probably be returning.

At the end of the weekend, the Keebler elf and the Princess of Unicorns had to return to Lubbock, alas. It was such fun having them here, and I am totally plotting our glorious return to the Celtic festival in 2011!


Unknown said...

Fascinating post! I would have loved to have been there.

Denise Covey said...

What a glorious time you had. Loved reading about it. Good pics to go also..:)

Su said...

It was glorious! :) This is another one I wish we could have more often... Austin needs to just alternate months with book festivals and Celtic festivals. Of course, I'd never get anything done...