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updated: 6/21/2014 6:50 PM

Pipers, knobbly knees highlight Scottish festival

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  • Matt Vincent of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, launches a 22-pound hammer during the Scottish Festival and Highland Games at Hamilton Lakes in Itasca.

       Matt Vincent of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, launches a 22-pound hammer during the Scottish Festival and Highland Games at Hamilton Lakes in Itasca.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Nathan Burchett of Mason City, Iowa, competes in the 22-pound hammer throw during the Scottish Festival and Highland Games at Hamilton Lakes in Itasca.

       Nathan Burchett of Mason City, Iowa, competes in the 22-pound hammer throw during the Scottish Festival and Highland Games at Hamilton Lakes in Itasca.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Adria Fernandez and Asa Korsberg Fernandez, both from St. Paul, Minnesota, relax during the Scottish Festival and Highland Games at Hamilton Lakes in Itasca.

       Adria Fernandez and Asa Korsberg Fernandez, both from St. Paul, Minnesota, relax during the Scottish Festival and Highland Games at Hamilton Lakes in Itasca.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Mark Cooper of Magnolia, Texas, sells hand-carved woodwork during the Scottish Festival and Highland Games at Hamilton Lakes in Itasca.

       Mark Cooper of Magnolia, Texas, sells hand-carved woodwork during the Scottish Festival and Highland Games at Hamilton Lakes in Itasca.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Mark McCrimmon, right, formerly of Naperville, receives solo piping lessons from David McNally during the Scottish Festival and Highland Games at Hamilton Lakes in Itasca.

       Mark McCrimmon, right, formerly of Naperville, receives solo piping lessons from David McNally during the Scottish Festival and Highland Games at Hamilton Lakes in Itasca.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Itasca Highland Games

 
 

Somehow Philip Davies found himself talked into appearing in front of a large crowd displaying his knees at the Scottish Festival and Highland Games in Itasca Saturday.

As one of several brave souls displaying their legs in the Knobbly Knees contest, he made his pitch to an appreciative crowd. "This is what 12 years of marriage will do to you," Davies explained, showing off his knees.

Entering the contest "was a complete surprise," the Huntley resident said. "My wife just told me."

Davies, who is English, was among hundreds of Celtic enthusiasts descending on Itasca's Hamilton Lakes for the two-day festival, which ended Saturday.

In addition to the Knobbly Knees contest, multiple bands participated in the Midwest Pipe Band Championship competition while athletes took turns throwing large objects from 22-pound hammers to cabers. Visitors had their pick of Scottish fare from shortbreads to imported ales, meat pies and of course haggis.

Kilts were everywhere including a Mitchell Ancient Tartan, which bagpiper Dave Pollock was sporting.

Pollock grew up in Edinburgh but now lives in Milwaukee. A member of the Billy Mitchell Pipe Band, he explained that judges at the competition were looking for more than just a loud sound.

"Musically, bagpipes are quite simple," he explained. "It's much more about technique and precision."

The festival was organized by the Chicago Scots group, which works to promote and celebrate Scottish culture.

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