DANDRIDGE- Thanks to her last name, Amber O’Reilly didn’t have to wonder too much about her heritage.
It came as a bonus when she found a home in Dandridge learned the town’s heritage matched her own.
O’Reilly was one of the thousands of people that came to downtown Dandridge’s annual Scots-Irish Festival that celebrates the dual Celtic cultures Saturday.
“It’s really neat that a small town like this can pull off such a big and unique festival,” O’Reilly said.
Justin Lindsey was at the festival, hoping to learn more about his Scottish heritage.
Lindsey came across booths were he learned what his family name meant and notable Lindseys of the past.
At the Scottish Tartan Museum tent, whose members made the trek from Franklin, N.C., Lindsey saw his family’s colors.
The museum’s John Frasier said tartans were created as a way to identify clans and family members. Frasier said tartans are far more frequently celebrated in the U.S. now than they were traditionally in Scotland. The tartan was, along with bagpipes, outlawed during a war in the 18th century and afterward were brought back on a smaller scale as a source of family pride.
Frasier said tartans were multipurpose for the Scottish who wore the heavy wool material year round to hold their weapons, and even use as sleeping bags at night. A shorter form of the tartan, the kilt came much later. Tartans could be seen lined all across the Main Street drag as multiple clans and vendors had set them up as symbols of pride.
Dandridge Main Street director Tina Murrow said the festival this year doubled its vendors from the year before.
Mark Murrow, one of the festivals organizers, said guests from as far away as Atlanta, New Orleans and even Australia came to be a part of the festival.
New additions to the festival this year included the Chattanooga Pipe and Drum Band who performed along with the Knoxville Pipe and Drums during the opening ceremonies.
The Canadian musical group, Mudmen, provided the festival with its first international musical guest, thrilling the crowd with its unique sound.
To add to the flair and heritage of the festival many Scots-Irish traditional foods like haggis and the ever popular fish and chips were crowd pleasers, with many vendors selling out.
-From Staff Reports