GERING — History is an important component of understanding different cultures and during the Celtic Gathering in Gering Saturday, June 29, Scottish heritage was on display as the community came out to learn and witness life as it was in the 1700s and 1800s. From sword fighting, weaving, and music, the Scottish heritage has a long history of violence and fighting for their culture, which ultimately brought them to America.
For Scotts Bluff County, the beginning of the Scottish heritage occurred as Hiram Scott, an American trapper and pelt trader completed expeditions around this region in the 1820s. While legend and folklore indicate that Scott died in the area, there are different versions about where it occurred. Jerry Lucas, who has researched the life and legend of Hiram Scott said one version is Scott contracted an illness during an eastward journey.
“Two comrades were left with him to get him home,” Lucas said. “The three of them traveled in a boat in an attempt to transport him downstream. The two men left him on the bank of the North Platte River, but his skeleton was found on the other side.”
Another version arose describing Scott’s comrades left him behind at Laramie Fork, which is now referred to as Fort Laramie. His remains were found along the North Platte River 100 miles from where he was left behind. His death near the bluffs lead to the name of Scotts Bluffs, which Lucas said was plural.
Aside from the history visitors learned and participated in at the event, artwork was on display as the Painted Dogs prepare to auctioned off later this summer.
Rachelle Eversole, a landscapes, florals, Western art and animals artists from Broadwater, Nebraska, was also at the event creating painting of mountains and a moon-lit waterfall.
“I’ve painted all my life,” Eversole said. “I got into wet on wet technique back in 2000. I have fun with it.” Taking inspiration from the blood moon, Eversole showcased her artistic talents as the public watched the scene form on the canvas.
“Traci Wilkes asked me if I would come up,” Eversole said. “I painted one of the dogs with the wings on his back. I call him the Earth Angel. She just asked if I wanted to do this. I said sure because any day I can paint is a good day.”
Families could also participate in shooting bow and arrows and having sword fights. The Woods family from Alliance enjoyed both activities as 8-year-old Tanner Woods learned how to shoot a bow and arrow before having a duel with his father, Scott.
“It was fun,” he said. “The hardest part was keeping my elbow down.”
One of his shots struck the dummy in the heart, which he thought was cool.
Garion Evans, who is a member of the Renaissance Scotts Living History Association, helped Woods and others with the bow and arrow activity.
The RenScotts set up multiple pavilions like Wick and Woolery, Hide and Hair, the Armory and Blacksmithy.
“We depict Highland life around the 18th Century,” he said. “A big deal for us is making Scottish historical culture accessible. We’re not out here to turn people into professional archers, but we want to give people a taste of what it’s like to be a highlander.”
The association’s village has participated in the previous two Celtic Gatherings. As part of their involvement, Evans hopes they can educate the public about the culture’s history and dispel some of the misconceptions of the Scottish culture.
Another part of Scottish culture was creating tartans. Mark Riehm has been a spinner for 21 years and despite the heat, used a loom to create a Scotts Bluff tartan. A tartan typically features colors of the local area and served as a survival garment as well as camouflage.
“Tartan was of a place,” Riehm said. “We raised cows and we lived in the highlands and we traded them to the English in the lowlands. There are two ways to make a living with cattle. The hard way is I have to raise it. The easy way is I steal yours. If I’m wearing my blanket (tartan) that’s woven of the colors of the landscape around me, as a camouflage garment, hopefully when I lay down in the grasses, you won’t see me coming to steal your cattle.” The Gaelic term plaid means blanket, which is what a kilt represents, which is a 7-9 foot wool garment that serves as a blanket, cover through the rain and an outfit to meet the changing climate.
The Celtic Gathering wraps up Sunday as celtic games get underway just outside the Five Rocks Amphitheater in Gering.