Lyon College announces free admission Arkansas Scottish Festival

BATESVILLE, Ark. — This year, the Arkansas Scottish Festival will be free.
The 32nd Arkansas Scottish Festival is set for April 8-10 on the Lyon College campus in Batesville. Organizers said admission to the three-day festival will be free.
The festival has for three decades, provided a glimpse of traditional Scotland to visitors from Arkansas and all over the country.
The celebration began as a way to honor the college’s Scottish roots. Lyon College was founded in 1872 by the Presbyterian Church, which has its roots in Scotland. The college recognizes Scotland through its Scottish Heritage Program and through the annual Arkansas Scottish Festival, which brings in thousands of visitors during the weekend.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Scottish festival without bagpipe, drumming and Highland dancing competitions. The qualifiers feature pipers, drummers and dancers from all over the world including Ireland and Scotland.
Festival organizer Jimmy Bell said he hopes free admission will bring in more families to the event.
“We want moms, dads, kids, grandmas and grandpas to come and enjoy the festival,” he said. “We have something for all ages.”
Bell said this year’s festival will feature more events, more competitors, more pipe bands and more entertainment.
The Highland Games are a popular event at the Arkansas Scottish Festival. The games feature athletes competing in traditional Scottish events including the caber toss, hammer throw, stone put and sheaf toss.

The caber toss is the most famous Scottish field event. In this competition, athletes begin by picking up a caber – a large, tapered log that’s often thought of as a small telephone pole that can be anywhere from 12-19 feet long and may weigh from 30 to 120 pounds. The competitors begin the contest with lighter and shorter cabers, working their way up in weight and length until all but one are eliminated.
Other Highland events such as the hammer throw and stone put were used on the battlefield as weapons against their enemies, and clan chieftains used the sheaf toss to gauge a warrior’s strength.
The stone put is similar to shot put in track and field events. Men use a stone weighing 17 pounds, while women use an 11-pound stone. Contestants throw the heavy stones as far as possible.
The sheaf toss involves a burlap bag filled with straw weighing approximately 16 pounds. The object is to toss the bag over a crossbar using a three-pronged pitchfork.
The festival also has children’s activities. The Child’s Passport program is a free activity where children receive a passport and take it to the clans. They get the passports stamped at the various clan booths and bring it back to the Welcome Tent for a prize. Child’s Passport organizer Brenda Lindsey said she usually gives out between 200 and 400 passports during the festival.
The children’s games are also a hit with the younger festival-goers. Children can play a variety of games and win prizes.
Other events during the weekend include, sheepdog demonstrations, library book sale, Highland cattle, corporate Olympics, feast and Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee), bonniest knees contest, parade of massed bands, Scottish seminars and an Iona worship service.
The Arkansas Scottish Festival website provides registration information for patrons, groups, vendors, athletic competitors, clans and piping, drumming and band participants. For more information about the festival or to register, visit