by Dee Benedict
So at our last Games Board meeting we had invited (as is our practice in the last months running up to the Games) several of our senior committee chairmen. Understand, we have a very different Board than that of any other Games, and indeed I’ll say practically any other non-profit event or festival. This is a hard-working Board, with each member responsible for implementation of his/her venues.
Note: in our Games, there are an awful lot more “hers” in positions of responsibility than any other Scottish Games I know, and I know a lot. Each one has a full-time job and sacrifices a great deal of spare time and family life during the year to build the Games.
We’ve been at this for eight years now and our Board has a great time whenever we get together. True to our Scots heritage, we find great humor in almost everything and as we say in the South we "cut fool" a lot at our meetings. We do get ‘er done though, and then some, resulting in an incredible series of events.
After our what we consider to be a typical board meeting, I’ll just say the image of one of our female Board members attempting to plaster a Scottish bumper sticker I had given out on her rear was not out of the ordinary, one of our new committee chairmen came up to me at the end of the meeting and said, “uh – is there a higher Board of Directors than this one? Like, is there anybody that sits on top of this Board?”
Meaning: can this bunch of hooples possibly run the most incredible Games on the planet?
The Greenville Scottish Games began in 2006, and from its inception has consistently taken an innovative, fresh approach to celebrating Scottish heritage. Greenville is nestled in arguably the highest concentration of Scots-Irish descent in the country. The legacy left to us resonates throughout the Upstate in our place names, our attitude toward family, our sense of humor, and our love of country.
There is so much to celebrate in this heritage, and so much to honor, that a small group of us said, heck, how hard can it be? Let’s establish a Games here in Greenville – and we needed a drop-dead gorgeous setting. We were offered a few landfill sites out in the County that somehow didn’t quite suit – maybe it was the methane pipes – and so when Furman University offered us the use of their athletic fields, we plopped the Games down in its new happy home and there we remain.
It was hot, hot, hot those first three years when the region was in the grip of some evil semi-permanent weather system! We fled to a cooler weekend with the added benefit of being on Memorial Day Weekend, so that we can honor our Armed Forces as well as our Scottish allies.
We also made the decision to expand the Games into new directions, while at the same time building and improving all the traditional Scottish Games elements. This has brought in an increasingly diverse attendance of folks who may not be of Scottish heritage but who come to see all-day Border Collies, or the British Car Show, or take their children to Wee Scotland, etc. We have created a Bonnie Lad and Lassie Pageant for the wee ones, and an on-line writing contest that we are taking national this year. We are conducting a Miss Greenville Scottish Games as part of the Official Miss South Carolina Pageant, the only Games in the US to do so. We have launched an on-line, interactive flip newsletter,The Dirk, which is in the cutting edge of social media, unlike any other festival we have seen. We are an all-volunteer force comprised of wildly different backgrounds that have melded into a powerful cadre that produces an amazing multi-day, multi-event festival now known as Gallabrae.
We are now ranked among the top Games worldwide by the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, and we were singularly honored in 2010 to have as our Most Distinguished Guest HRH The Prince Edward, the first time any member of the British Royal Family had attended a Games outside of Scotland. Our Honored Guest this year is Andrew MacThomas of Finegand.
Greenville County Council has designated us as the Premier Event for Greenville County. All we can say at this point is that they, and you, ain’t seen nuttin’ yet!