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Clans to gather for annual Virginia Scottish Games

THE BALTIMORE SUN

One of the colorful festivals of summer is the Virginia Scottish Games, scheduled Saturday and next Sunday in Alexandria, Va., on the grounds of Episcopal High School. This year's 18th annual event brings clan societies, musicians, athletes, dancers and artisans to participate in the various competitions or to sell their wares.

Two top features are the eighth annual Celtic Harp Competition, held to promote interest in the ancient Celtic harp and Scottish song, and the National Scottish Fiddling Championship.

The amateur and professional athletic contests are among the main events, along with the grand parade of Scottish clans. Participants must prove their strength and skill in contests, some of which trace their origins back to the ancient Highland games of northern Scotland.

There's more to see, like the Celtic crafts fair featuring regional artisans, a British antique automobile show, Scottish breed dog events, clan tents where genealogy can be traced, and a recent addition -- a pub tent for refreshment and live entertainment. An additional event is the Scottish Country Dance party, hosted by the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society on Saturday evening.

A two-day ticket costs $15. a one-day ticket costs $9; children 15 and under are admitted free with a paying adult; children unaccompanied pay $1. The school is at 3901 W. Braddock Road in Alexandria's west end.

A tape-recorded message at (703) 838-5005 provides detailed information, or you can call the Aleandria Convention and Visitors Bureau, (703) 838-4200.

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Another popular event in Virginia this week is the annual Pony Swim and Auction in Chincoteague from Wednesday to Friday. Now in its 66th year, it is the only known event of its kind in the country.

The actual swim, which takes about 10 minutes, is scheduled on Wednesday some time between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m., depending on tides. After the horses reach shore they are rounded up and penned at the Carnival Grounds for inspection by potential buyers and the general public. The auction is scheduled Thursday between 8 a.m. and noon. On Friday the unsold ponies make their return swim to Assateague Island.

Chincoteague's annual Fireman's Carnival provides nightly entertainment through Saturday from 7 p.m. to midnight and is open all day on Wednesday and Thursday. Food concessions are set up on Carnival Grounds, and the Ladies Auxiliary of the Volunteer Fire Department will serve complete dinners both days.

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The event is free. For information, call (804) 336-6161.

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Seven days of family fun are in store for those who visit Chambersburg, Pa., Friday through Aug. 1 during Chambersfest This annual event commemorates Civil War days in Chambersburg, the only northern town that was burned during the war.

Throughout the week Civil War seminars and walking tours are scheduled, along with tours of the Old Jail, which had a connection with the Underground Railroad. Also on the agenda is a program on Saturday that focuses on the role of black soldiers during the war, a commemorative ceremony and bus tour to view Civil War sites in the Harrisburg/Carlisle area on Sunday and a Civil War luncheon and fashion show on July 31.

Other events include Old Market Day on Saturday with crafts, food, demonstrations and a quilt festival; an Air Fest featuring skydiving, airplane rides, a balloon launch and food, Saturday and next Sunday from 9 a.m. to sunset; a softball tournament; and concerts.

5) For information, call (717) 264-7101.

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Scenic River Days in Reading, Pa., is another big event from Thursday through next Sunday. It is the fifth year for this celebration of music, art, food and fun in Reading's Riverfront Park, situated along the Schuylkill River.

Performances by national, regional and local talent will fill four stages of music. Stage 4 is a dance tent offering various rhythms for dancing. With the exception of four shows on the Main Stage, all performances are free. A separate stage for children will feature jugglers, puppeteers, clowns, singers and other entertainers.

A new free admission arena will be set up for gymnastics, juggling, trick cycling and other special events. There is also a juried art show and a juried craft show featuring displays and demonstrations by regional and local artisans.

Hours are 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday; noon to 11 p.m. Saturday; noon to 9 p.m. next Sunday.

For information, call (215) 375-6508 Monday to Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

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Black Heritage History Day will be celebrated today at George Washington's Birthplace National Monument, Washington's Birthplace, Va. Presentations on slave culture focusing on music, dance and storytelling will be given by interpreters from Colonial Williamsburg from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

When George Washington lived here as a boy there were 20 to 25 slaves on the plantation. The park makes use of inventories, deeds, wills and archeological evidence to examine the role of the Afro-Americans at Popes Creek Plantation during the 18th century.

Saturday and next Sunday a program is planned on popular amusements of the gentry during the 18th century. It will include a talk on Martha Washington's use of plants for seasoning, decoration and medicinal purposes; a Colonial sing-along; ladies' fashions; fortune telling, a popular parlor game; and demonstrations of court and country dances from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The park is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is 38 miles east of Fredericksburg, Va., on Route 3. Admission is $1 for ages 17 to 61. For information, call (804) 224-1732.

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The Shenandoah Valley Musical Festival opened its 29th season outdoor summer concerts this weekend on the grounds of the Orkney Springs Hotel, a restored 19th century mineral springs resort in Orkney Springs, Va.

The programs include symphonic pops, classical, folk, jazz and big band music. Other festival actvities are an arts and crafts show by about 50 regional artisans Friday and Saturday; storytellers for children Friday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 8 p.m.; and ice cream socials before each concert, with picnicking allowed on the lawn. Buffet dinners are available.

The concert schedule includes pops and classical concerts Friday and Saturday, a dixieland concert Aug. 10, folk music by Trapezoid Aug. 31 and big band music Sept. 1.

Orkney Springs is 15 miles west of Interstate 81 at Mount Jackson, Va. For information, call (703) 459-3396.

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The 10th annual Bluegrass Festival will be held Saturday and next Sunday in the re-created pioneer town at Old Bedford Village near Bedford, Pa.

Continuous music under tent from noon to 8 p.m. can be heard, performed by the Navy Bluegrass Band, the Lewis Family, the Sounds of Grass, Bedford County Grass and other groups.

You can tour the village's 40 authentic and restored buildings and meet costumed pioneers and village craftspeople. Open-pit chicken barbecue, roast pig and other foods will be available.

Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for ages 6 to 12, free for under 6. Tickets for evening musical peformances after 4 p.m. are available for $3 for adults, $2 for children.

Old Bedford Village is 1/4 mile south of Exit 11 of the Pennsylvania Turnpike on Business U.S. 220. For information, call (800) 622-8005.

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