Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Kickin' it in Kincardine

As the debate rages on as to whether its pronounced Kin-car-din or Kin-car-deen, I'll tell you a story of my Canada Day weekend at the Kincardine Scottish Festival.

Late Friday evening we decided to drive up to Kincardine to go to the Scottish Festival. After a belaboured journey, involving pit stops, and getting lost in Guelph trying to locate a liquor store, we reached Kincardine (roughly 11:30pm). Upon arrival we came to the realization that we had no idea where the camp site we were planning to stay was. We tried asking the officer at the DUI stop, but he was briskly whisked away by an emergency bar fight call - I was starting to like the town already. It was at this point we figured we would just grab a motel. Sometime after finding out all motels in town were booked at the closest one with vacancies was in Hanover (approx 45 minute drive), we went back to the provincial map to look for provincial parks to set up camp in. We found one small place call Inverhuron, and made trail. We arrived around 12:30 and crossed our fingers we could find a camp site in the dark. After some driving we found one. Made camp, and got out the beers. After having a few and the time reaching about 2 in the am, we made rest to get up and get to the Scottish Festival bright and early.

We got back to Kincardine around 9 am, and went straight to the festival. The first thing we noticed, was almost as far as the ear could hear and the eye could see, bagpipes were everywhere. People were walking out of their homes clad in kilt, sash, and pipes. We entered during the first 2 events, Solo Pipping competition, and the Girls Highland Dancing competition.
Hunger quickly prevailed over sound and sight alike, and we took leave to the Fireman's Pancake Breakfast just around the corner. The team of Kincardine Firemen and women were out there in the morning sun grilling away, at a scrambled egg station, a sausage station, and of course, the pancake station. Also tending to the buffet of course. The breakfast was 6$ for coffee, orange/apple juice, 2 sausages, scrambled eggs, and 2 large pancakes.
Everything was quite surprisingly good. Who knew firemen could cook like this. Whilst not the most difficult to cook food, everything was fairly perfectly cooked. Nice golden brown pancakes, juicy wonderful sausages, and fluffy eggs (they needed a bit of salt and pepper).

After breakfast it was back to the festival, this time to wonder up and down the vendor area. If ever you need a kilt, this is certainly a place to look. Lots of Celtic knick knacks, Robbie Burns commemorative plates, clothing, hats, instruments ranging from bodhrans, to tin whistles, British Candy shops, and more. I ended up purchasing a tin whistle, and new cap, and some Highland Toffee for my mum.

After which we took in a bit more of the dancing, enjoyed a ginger beer, saw some more pipes, then returned to the car to put away our loot, and head over to the Highland Games competition.
We arrived to watch these beasts of men and women around 1 or 2 pm, right when they were getting into the spirit of heavy lifting. Running male and female competitions simultaneously; the women were throwing a 28 lb metal ball in the air over a metal goal line. Every time they succeeded, the bar would be raised a foot higher.

The men were hurling for distance, using first 56 lb, then 28 lbs. The winner for 28 lbs, won with 77+ ft.

The next female event was played with a short pitchfork, and a bag of twine weighing 12 lbs. They would grab the bags with the fork, and hurl them backwards over their shoulders to get over the goal post. Again, every time they made it over, the bar would be raised by a foot.

Next up for the men was the hammer toss. They would spin around in the same spot with a large heavy hammer, then release throwing for distance.
Next up the men split into 2 groups, one on the high toss (the 42 lb balls), and the others on the caver. The objective of the caver being to hoist up a giant log, run with it, toss it, and try and flip it over as straight as possible. The groups then switched, and the men who were doing the caver, came to do the high toss (with 56 lb balls!).
And last but not least, the people with the best seats in the house, in no short reason due to self serve liquor and the no-cost nature of them, I present - The Irish Cheap Seats.
A group of native Kincardinians (presumably Irish), on their back patio, with friends and neighbours alike, getting a view of the highland games for free, with coolers of tasty beverages. If booze access, and free seats weren't enough to make me jealous, there easy access to sunburn preventing shade and indoor space certainly was.

Having had enough of the sun we made our way back yet again to the festival grounds. This time we took a walk through the clan section. Where I looked up the long lost family name from my mums side of Fergus. And my friend looked up his long lost family name of Forbes. We then went for a little late lunch at the small strip of food vendors.

We stopped by the green van and got a poutine and a cheeseburger, Kel got a poutine from Cook de Fries. The poutine I purchased had flavourless gravy, grated cheese (and little of it), and fries taken right out of the freezer into the fryer, tasted hollow and flavourless. A complete let down. The cheeseburger has a thin piece of meat, and a thin piece of cheese. Tasted ok, for 4$ still a let down. Kel's poutine had more flavour, but still loses points for grated cheese. The gravy and fries were good though.
My Poutine.
Christina's Cheeseburger.
Kel's Poutine
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned by bad poutine (as can be noted by the insincere smile of disappointment). Ok, I'm probably exaggerating. Hell hath no fury like a foodie scorned by bad poutine. That's better. What kind of shit is grated cheese on a pountine. What kind of fucking idiot do you have to be to not know the difference between grated cheese and cheese curds. Grated cheese, on fries with gravy is just that - grated cheese on fries and gravy, NOT-FUCKING-POUTINE. This is completely unaccept-- Sigh, I'll leave it there before it turns into a full fledged rant. Back to the story.
After lunch we came to the realization we had no where to sleep again. So we jetted back to the camp grounds to get our spot (they wouldn't take phone reservations and only had 3 left). We got there around 5:50, and quickly set up camp.

We returned promptly after setting up camp. We got a quick round of beers in, and almost as soon as we sat, but mere feet away, the championship pipe band came in to play a victory round.

After which we were treated to the 2nd and I believe 3rd place bands.

Around 9 after digesting a significant amount more beer, the leading bands began to play. First off was Needfire, from Texas. (Excuse the photos, it was dark, I was far away, and getting a little sloppy).

After putting away a few beers and being thoroughly entertained by the energetic Needfire, Poor Angus from Hamilton, ON took the stage.

Another excellent act, leaning more toward the folk side. Furthering the folk rock was the Glengarry Boys, from Glengarry, ON.

The older, drunker Highland Dancers.

They were also the closing act, finish off around 1am, ladies and gents I danced till I nearly collapsed. The fiddler (whom, whilst I don't mean to be presumptuous, I believe had either ADHD, or a big bag of blow before preforming) really managed to bring the energy.

We returned to camp, had a few more beers and then shuffled off for the night.

We awoke rather early, made our round of taking down the tents, packing up, visiting the facilities and throwing out the trash. All done by around 10am, we were left with a full day. We started by going to the beach within the park right on Lake Huron. Never having been to Huron before I was pleasantly surprised by clear (and clean) waters, sandy shores, and relatively vegetation free bottom of the lake.
If you look closely at the wave you can see a loons head. It was fishing about whilst we swam.

The water was exceptionally cold, yet amazingly soothing on my sunburns.

Ouch. (I havent had a good nights sleep since).

We took a good dip, and got thrashed around by the waves a bit. Took a nice stroll up and down the beach, and then decided it was time for lunch.

We ventured back to Kincardine, and found a little pub on Harbour St. called Erie Belle. This quiant little Fish and Chips pub, was semi-busy (maybe busy for a small town, I dont know, I dont now or ever have lived in one).

Me and Christina split the seafood deluxe platter, consisting of fried shrimp, fried popcorn shrimp, crab salad, fried cod, chips, and coleslaw.

Kel had the fried cod and chips.

I must say it was a great pleasure to be able to order fish and chips and not be completly let down. Far too often in Toronto do you get either over cooked fish, or under cooked batter. It was nice to have nice crisp batter with wonderfully flaky cod.

So no matter how you pronunce it, if you have a high tollerance for bagpipes, the Kincardine Scottish Festival can present a good deal of fun. I plan to return to Kincardine next year if I'm in Ontario. I hope this encourages some of your to come and visit too.

Your faithfull (and burnt crispy) narrator, Tim, the Devils Advocate.

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