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Scotland comes to Orion

Band member wants to bring summer fun to Canterbury

March 28, 2012 - By Tahra Gribbin

Review Intern

Looking for some summer excitement in Lake Orion with a scottish twist?

Look no farther than down the street at Old World Canterbury Village. On June 30 and July 1, rain or shine, Canterbury will host the second Scottish Highland Games, put on by the Scottish-American Society of Michigan.

Franklin Dohanyos is the Executive Director of the Scottish-American Society of Michigan and lead singer/guitarist/bagpiper in the Scottish/Irish band Raggle Taggle. He lives in Royal Oak and is the person who came up with the exciting ideas for this year's games. 

"A few years ago, I went to one of the Scottish days at Canterbury and thought of all these things they could do with it," said Dohanyos. "I went to talk to the heads and told them I had these ideas — and they told me to go for it."

Before the Scottish-American Society of Michigan came to recreate the Highland Festival at Canterbury two years ago, about 400 people attended on average. After they rebuilt the festival and added to it, about 2,400 people began attending each year. 

Some of these new ideas include Irish step dancing, Scottish highland dancing, bands, a children's area with games, coloring, crafts and prizes, bounce houses, booths and a night time band for the adults. 

Saturday night there is expected to be a Celtic party complete with a band playing from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and plenty of drinks for adults.

"It's advised that children stay at home for the Saturday night party," said Dohanyos. "But we're really trying to emphasize that the rest of this festival is family friendly and fun for everyone."

The Highland Games also includes heavy athletics such as the caber toss that are open to participants.

Dohanyos hopes to put on a few exciting shows for the attendees. Sword fighting demonstrations, a pirate show and jousting are just three exciting acts that the society hopes to add to this year's lineup. 

Two bands, The Michigan Scottish Pipe Band and Dohanyos's band Raggle Taggle, will play along with solo bagpipers are. Dohanyos cooperates his band with his wife.

"We're really trying to make this one of the premier Scottish events in Michigan," said Dohanyos. "We want to make this a great and educational experience but we need sponsors to be able to pay for that."

In the past, admission had been determined by a $5 parking fee. This year, because of the new expenses that come with improving the games, there will be a $5 fee that will cover either a wristband or a stamp. The children's area is free though a face painting booth is available for $1.

Business and individual donations are encouraged to help the Highland Games. They accept contributions from $250-$5,000. Higher sponsorship comes with the Scottish-American Society of Michigan offering prizes such as a night at a local bed and breakfast and a night on Mackinac Island. Along with the prizes, they also offer press such as posters andadvertisements around the event to any business who donates.

If interested in sponsoring the Highland Games, visit them online at scotsofmichigan.com. Other ways to donate include emailing Dohanyos at scotsofmi@yahoo.com or calling him at (248) 399-1101.

One of the interesting things for anyone attending the Highland Games will be clan row. Clan row will involve clans interested in setting up a booth and all are invited. At these booths, attendees can learn more about their family history as well as Scottish history.

"It's interesting how your heritage leads you places and tends to discover you," said Dohanyos. "I've been very interested in Scottish and Irish music since I was young. When everyone else was listening to rock, I was listening to bagpipes."

The Scottish-American Society of Michigan will offer a booth where anyone can go for information regarding Scotland. Booths are only $75 per weekend.

"I don't know where you can go to see this much entertainment for $5," said Dohanyos. "And it's all thanks to the volunteers at Old World Canterbury Village. About 100 volunteers have worked to set up these games."

FInally, another addition that has been made to the Highland Games this year is the number of vendors that have added their food to the Games. Ackroyd's Scottish Bakery will be among them, selling baked goods while King's Castle Court Pub will sell meat pies, bridies, sausage rolls and other traditional Scottish food.

"I love it all," added Dohanyos. "I love the food, the people are some of the most generous you'll ever meet, the history is rich and the music is great. This should be a great time for everyone."

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