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Scottish Farewell

Annual festival of Scottish culture is laid to rest.

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Pack up the plaid, and stow away those bagpipes.

After a 12-year run, Memphis' Clanjamfry festival celebrating Scottish heritage and culture won't be happening this year.

The organizers of the yearly fest held on the grounds of Evergreen Presbyterian Church have decided to retire most of the festivities. Only the Kirkan o' the Tartans church service, which features bagpipes and elements of traditional Scottish worship, will remain, but it has been moved to October 30th. For years, the Clanjamfry events have been held on the third weekend of September.

"In the life of every church, you have to stop at some point and figure out where all your resources are going and what your people are doing," said Beverly Cruthirds, who volunteered on Clanjamfry's steering committee in years past. "We reached a point where we realized that we've done this and it's been great. But it's time to figure out other things to do."

Nothing new is planned in Clanjamfry's place yet, but Cruthirds said event organizers are looking into the possibility of starting future events celebrating Scottish heritage.

"We're looking more at various missions that our [church] members might want to get involved in," Cruthirds said.

Twelve years ago, Evergreen church members launched Clanjamfry (an old Scottish term for "a rabble or crowd of people") as a way to raise money for the church's recreational programs, such as team sports, after-school care, and summer child care.

"Another reason was because the Presbyterian Church sprang from Scotland, and we wanted to explore that rich heritage. We felt like the festival would be a good way for us to learn about our roots," Cruthirds said.

The three-day festival began with a Friday night talent show followed by a day-long Saturday Faire on the grounds of Evergreen. The faire event, which drew up to 4,000 people throughout the day each year, featured sheep-herding demonstrations, traditional Highland dancing, Scottish musical acts, games, and even a parade of dogs dressed in plaid.

The festivities ended on Sunday with the Kirkan o' the Tartans service, followed by a dinner on the church grounds. That dinner will take place this year after the October Kirkan service.

Because the festival had grown so large over the years, Cruthirds said volunteers had to start planning the next year's festival as soon as that year's ended.

"It was a labor of love," Cruthirds said. "All of us did this part-time, and almost all of the people involved in organizing had full-time jobs. It was really an enormous commitment, and it wears on your after a while."

Cruthirds, who was responsible for organizing the event's Saturday night concert, said she'll miss the traditional Scottish music the most. Each year, prominent musical acts from Scotland made the trip to Memphis to play the fest.

"Come the third weekend in September, I'm going to have some sadness about not spending all day in the heat running around," Cruthirds said. "But then again, I'm sort of looking forward to having that weekend off."

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