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Scottish heritage comes to Orion

A picture from last year’s festival gives an idea of what to expect during the 2012 festival. Photo submitted (click for larger version)
June 27, 2012 - Orion Township is getting a taste of the highlands this weekend when the annual Scottish Highland Games returns to Canterbury Village on June 30 and July 1.

"It's a preservation of Scottish heritage in Michigan," said Franklin Dohanyos, event organizer and executive director of the Scottish American Society of Michigan. "Michigan has some great Highland Games Festivals in Alma, Saline, Kalamazoo, Hancock and Livonia each year but this festival gives people in Oakland County and surrounding areas a place to go to enjoy all things Scottish. The price and the atmosphere is very family friendly, we have terrific entertainment going on all day, delicious Scottish food, lots of fun things for kids to do and see, new vendors and a great Ceilidh (dance) on Saturday night featuring Shamus Whisky (a Scottish band.)

"We put on four events, but this is the grand-daddy of them all."

All things Scottish is exactly what the event will feature. Piping is a given and will feature the Michigan Scottish Pipe Band, heavy athletics will take place behind the complex where men will throw stones, hammers, tree trunks (telephone pole-sized cabers) and a Scottish dance demonstration from Lakes Area School of Highland Dance will happen just outside The Clansman Pub. A bounce house area is new this year and is a onetime admission while pony rides will also be available for the younger children. Scottish baked good from Ackroyd's bakery will fill the air with aroma, Celtic Fiddling featuring Shane McKinnon from Windsor, Ontario and more all await curious patrons.

Always Christmas Manager Teresa Miller said the event has markedly improved since Dohanyos became involved.

"It's great - he brings a lot of talent, energy and connections to the festival," she said. "He has connections with the Scottish people in Michigan which we didn't have before. He knows all these people, he deals with them all year and it's a big bonus for everyone here. Before it was just hiring someone who said they were Scottish, but (Dohanyos) knows what the Scots are, what they like and what they want."

An estimated 2,000 people attended the event in 2011 and Dohanyos is hoping to improve on that number, which is what he's strived for since taking over the event in 2010 which saw only 400 people attend. Now as the event becomes more well known, vendors from as far away as Indiana are attending the event.

Admission this year will be $5 per person with kids under eight-years-old admitted for free. Most of the money raised at the event will go towards charitable organizations according to Dohanyos.

"We do these events to raise money for organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and Angels of Hope. We're also tied in with Alma College - a Scottish college in Alma," said Dohanyos. "The whole thing is about having fun, we don't like bickering, we're just here to help people and learn more about heritage. This is one of the nicest events in Michigan and we're very confident about this year."

The event takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. on June 30 and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on July 1.

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