Great Scot, the games are back

Great Scot, the games are back

Local folks part of 56th Highland festival



When the Pacific Northwest Scottish Highland Games and Clan Gathering is staged for the 56th time this weekend at the King County Fairgrounds, Patrick Tougher will be there with his authentic accent and wares.

The Federal Way resident and Scotland native is among the adherents to all things Scot who will promote the culture Saturday and Sunday. Bagpipers, drummers, Highland dancers and gamesmen will perform. Traditional food and Celtic crafts will be featured. Also planned are balladeers spinning songs and tales of yore, a traditional party called a Cellidhi (pronounced Kay-lee), and displays of Scot-originated livestock and dogs. And vendors such as Tougher will be selling bits of the old country.

When he isn’t at his Twin Lakes-area shop, the Scottish Sword & Shield, Tougher makes the rounds of Scottish festivals in places such as Mount Vernon, Portland, Ore. and San Francisco. His merchandise includes arms dating back to the 1500s and Highland attire. But no kilts. Because they require at least eight yards of pure wool to make, they run as high as $550 a pair (“The bigger the man, the higher the cost,” he said), so he’s looking for a lower-priced supplier.

A coal miner before moving to the United States when he was 17 and later serving with the Army in the Korean War, Tougher (pronounced Tow-her) stays close to his heritage through Scottish festivals. His family is deeply involved in them. Two granddaughters, also living in Federal Way, are accomplished Highland dancers. Tougher himself used to participate in the athletic contests, throwing the hammer until the genetics of competitors caught up with him.

“Some of the lads are too big for me now. They look like the back end of a Clydesdale,” he said.

The gathering at the fairgrounds in Enumclaw is the sixth-oldest in the U.S. and the heaviest-attended in Washington; 30,000 folks turned out last year. It’s also the “grand finale” to the statewide Scottish Week, as proclaimed by Governor Gary Locke, said Barbara McBride, a spokeswoman for event organizer Seattle Scottish Highland Games Association.

The association, a non-profit group, was formed in 1947 by Scots interested in preserving their ethnic origin. The first patrons included the state’s then-governor, Arthur Langlie.

Before settling at the fairgrounds, the Highland Games and Clan Gathering rotated among Bothell, Burien, Everett, Fort Lewis, Kirkland, Renton and Seattle.

Editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at 925-5565 and

Scot to trot

The Pacific Northwest Scottish Highland Games and Clan Gathering is July 27-28 (8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. both days) at the King County Fairgrounds. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for children 5 to 18 years old and $7 for seniors 60 and over. Discounted two-day passes are available. Additional information is available at (206) 522-2541 and

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