With its 52nd year approaching, the Manitoba Highland Gathering will be dressing up for this year’s visitors.
While the Highland Dance competition, piping and drumming and Heavy Games will still be included, festival president Joyce Neyedly promises that there is much more in store for this year’s gathering.
“Our history has evolved,” Neyedly says. “We’re trending to a new way of presenting ourselves.”
Costumes are usually worn by festival volunteers and workers, but this year, visitors are invited to bring their own historical Scottish cosplay ideas or already-made costumes. Festival volunteers can help make the costume more historically correct.
“We’ve been going to (comics, gaming, and pop culture conventions) ICON and Comic Con and meeting the people there,” Neyedly says.
Visitors might recognize the dress and costumes from the television show Outlander as they explore the Jacobite-themed area on the festival grounds. The festival is organized into different areas that match different Scottish time periods, where volunteers are dressed up and playing roles.
“We do have the Sons of Luge, the Jacobite people and the Manitoba Living History Society offering workshops where people can source their material, patterns and, if they’re interested, source a particular (historical) figure,” Neyedly says. “Then they can go to the workshops and start making their own costumes.”
These historical groups, such as the Manitoba Living History Society (MLHS), aid in providing experiential learning of Manitoba’s history through having its members dress in historical costumes and act out daily activities of people from a historical era.
Although the MLHS has worked within many time periods related to Manitoba’s history - such as the Selkirk Settlement Period or events like the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919 - for the Manitoba Highland Gathering, they will don the appropriate attire related to Scottish history.
“We’re trying to add more and more as we go,” Neyedly says.
Rain or shine, the Manitoba Highland Gathering offers an eclectic mix of tradition - from the clan and tartan booths in the Scottish market to the sheep dog herding demonstrations - and chances to witness tributes to their regional history, such as canoe and kayak races and cosplay workshops. Your inner Braveheart awaits!
Published in Volume 72, Number 25 of The Uniter (May 31, 2018)