A horde of Scots is invading Ventura this weekend. In response, a division of the U.S. Marine Corps has been deployed.
The Seaside Highland Games is holding its 10th annual celebration this weekend at Seaside Park in Ventura. The Games are one of more than 140 similar events held throughout the country, celebrating Scottish and Celtic culture and heritage.
The origin of the games can be traced back to the 11th century, during the reign of King Malcolm III of Scotland. In their original form, the events consisted primarily of athletic competitions, and this year’s Seaside Highland Games is no exception.
Billed as “Large Men Throwing Stuff,” several competitions will be held under Scottish American Athletic Association regulation. Events include hurling 50-pound anvils, throwing sledgehammers and using pitchforks to toss sacks of hay over a raised bar. The caber toss, an event that has become emblematic of traditional Scottish games and involves flinging an 18-foot log, will also be held.
There will also be other competitions for dancing, bagpiping, fiddling and darts. The event will include a classic car show courtesy of the Central Coast British Car Club, combat re-enactments, a Children’s Glen complete with crafts and age-appropriate competitions, food and clothing vendors offering both Scottish and British goods.
A variety of musical acts are also scheduled, including The Browne Sisters and George Cavanaugh, Celtic Spring, Brother, Highland Way, John McLean Allan and Stand Easy and the Southern California Welsh Choir.
Perhaps the most noteworthy of all the acts, however, is the United State Marine Corps’ 1st Marine Division Band, which will be playing during the opening ceremonies on Saturday and taking part in marches throughout the weekend.
Based out of Camp Pendleton, the band consists of 50 active-duty Marine musicians and is one of only 12 field bands in the Marine Corps.
Though it doesn’t date back quite as far as the Highland Games, the 1st Marine Division Band’s history is no less storied. Organized in the early 1940s, during World War II’s Pacific Theater of Operations, 1st Marine Division bandsmen have supported many military operations; Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom I and II among them.
Within the band are several different ensembles, ranging from the traditional jazz big band to the five-piece rock band, which rips out various classic rock and heavy metal numbers complete with a set of bagpipes that invoke a Bon Scott-era AC/DC.
Combining precision drill movements with a variety of musical styles, the band has performed at an array of distinguished events, such as the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, and the State Funeral for President Gerald Ford.
The appearance at this year’s Highland Games is just one of the band’s 300 yearly commitments, but it’s an appropriate one. Both Marines and kilt-clad, tree-tossing Scots rank highly on a list of equally imposing and astonishing things.
The Seaside Highland Games will be held Saturday, Oct. 13, and Sunday, Oct. 14, at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. Adults $16-$25, seniors and military $14-$22, Children $5. For tickets and information, visit www.seaside-games.com.