The Hippo


May 29, 2020








New Hampshire Indoor Scottish Festival

When: Saturday, April 9, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; an additional grade 1 solo piping competition will be held Friday, April 8, at 7 p.m. ($5 admission).
Where: Merrimack High School, 38 McElwain St., Merrimack
Cost: $10 admission
Visit: or
Competing: The deadline to register as a competitor has passed, but you may still be able to participate in the fiddling events. Contact Pat at 340-0796 if interested.

100 pipers piping
Music, dancing and more at the Indoor Scottish Festival

By Angie Sykeny

 Fiddles, pipes and drums are the stars of the New Hampshire Indoor Scottish Festival on Saturday, April 9, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at Merrimack High School. 

The event features Scottish-flavored music and dancing competitions throughout the day, plus exhibitors, food and entertainment.
Concord-based nonprofit organization Scottish Arts started hosting the festival years ago to give Scottish music students a local opportunity to compete and advance to higher levels in their craft.
“It started out pretty small and was mainly a piping competition, but in the last several years, it’s gotten larger,” event organizer Pat Edwards said. “We’ve been focusing on trying to expand it and make it all-inclusive with a wider variety of competitions.”
With around 100 competitors, solo piping is still the main competition, but the festival also features competitions in solo bass and tenor drumming, pipe bands, Highland dancing and Scottish fiddling.
Competitors are all ages and come from several different states. Most of the competition divisions are based on skill level, though some factor in age as well. Amateur-level competitions award medals and trophies while professional-level competitions award prize money.
Some competition times are yet to be announced, but Edwards said the Highland dancing will begin at 9:30 a.m. and run until about 1 p.m., at which point the pipe band competitions will begin. The solo pipers will compete throughout the day.
“There’s a lot going on, and the nice thing is, it’s all open to spectators, so you can just sit in and watch the competitions as a show,” she said. “And these [musicians and dancers], they are competing to win, so for the most part they are really good. People come and enjoy it like they’re at a concert.”
This will be the festival’s second year having a fiddling competition. Scottish Arts decided to include it after noticing that despite the growing popularity of fiddle music, there weren’t many opportunities for fiddlers to compete.
To expand the fiddling aspect even more, a fiddle workshop and jam session have been added this year. The workshop is open to both competitors and non-competitors for a small fee (registration required), but the jam session is free with admission and open to anyone who brings a fiddle and wants to participate. It starts around 3 p.m.
“[Scottish fiddle players] love to get together and just play,” Edwards said. “And a jam session with them is not like something you usually see. They all share this musical heritage, so they know the music and know how to share the same tune. They’re really good.”
Other noncompetitive entertainment will be provided by an accordion player and the Grade 1 Stuart Highlanders pipe band from Massachusetts, which will play several of its competition and performance sets.
Lunch will be available for purchase, as well as treats from Tarte Café & Bakery.
More than a dozen vendors will be selling Scottish and Celtic products like Tartan highland apparel, kilts, accessories, gifts and ornaments, jewelry, glassware, piping and dancing supplies and more.
Members of the St. Andrew’s Society of New Hampshire, another group that promotes Scottish culture and arts, will be there to help visitors with Scottish heritage find out more about their clans and tartans.
New this year, there will be representatives from six different colleges that offer piping courses as part of their curriculums. The colleges are located all around the country, from as far as California to as close as Vermont.
There will also be information about other local Scottish cultural events and resources for people, both youth and adults, who want to start learning a Scottish music or dancing art.
“Anyone can learn this stuff starting at any time,” Edwards said. “We love to have more people check us out and get interested in it. Come for part of the day or come for all of it, and just see what it’s all about.” 

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