Bagpipes in the Air: Seaside Highland Games

Cheer for the tossing of the caber and several more traditional, kilt-cool to-dos in Ventura.

Seaside Highland Games

MOST OF THE TIME, as a rule, we encounter tall poles made of solid wood as we're driving down a road. They whoosh by, or rather we whoosh by them, and we ponder how much a telephone pole might weigh, or how tall it is, or what impressive efforts are required in its installation. What we're not pondering, on the whole, is the notion of picking them up and throwing them, end-over-end, down a field. True, the caber toss, an ancient part of the heavy athletics portion of a Highlands Game, doesn't require its participants to throw telephone poles, but massive pieces of wood of great height and weight are employed. (Great height=19 feet and 6 inches, and the weight is traditionally around 175 pounds.) Have you ever seen a person lift such a thing and, well, toss it? Prepare for a spectacle of serious athleticism, as well as more wonders and charms, at one of California's biggest Scottish gatherings. It's...

THE SEASIDE GAMES, a vivacious Ventura happening billed as "the Premier Scottish Festival on the West Coast." In addition to the tossing of the caber, there shall be sheaf tossing, putting the stone, and other feats of strength and skill. Dancing is also a part of the weekend-long ceilidh, and fiddling showdowns, and a fashion show, and sheepdogs showing off their herding abilities, and a children's glen. Seaside Park is the location for the Oct. 7 through 9 festival, which means you'll enjoy some soft ocean breezes while you jubilantly jig (if jigging is your passion). Those breezes might transport you to the Scottish highlands, in spirit, though Ventura is more about sandy beaches rather than heather-dotted hillsides. Find your tartan and clear the second weekend in October for cabers, songs, dogs, and more.

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