Celtic traditions have been a part of life in Alexandria, Va., since it was founded by Scottish merchants in 1749. Many of the big happenings in Alexandria have a Scottish focus, but none is more colorful than the annual Virginia Scottish Games July 22-23.
One of the nation's largest and most complete exhibitions of Scottish culture, the games include athletic contests, Highland dancing, music competitions, a Celtic craft fair, daylong Scottish-breed dog exhibitions, an antique British car show and Scottish food. All this takes place on the grounds of Episcopal High School at 3901 W. Braddock Road.
One of this year's highlights is the Retreat Parade at 5 p.m. Saturday, featuring the Baltimore Scottish Colour Guard and a ceremonial artillery salute by the re-created War of 1812 gun crew of the HMS. Severn.
Another highlight is the U.S. National Highland Heptathlon, a seven-event contest among invited world-class athletes. Contests such as these go back to the ancient Highland games VTC of northern Scotland, where clan chieftains demonstrated their strength at annual gatherings. One such event is the caber toss, in which athletes flip a log the size of a telephone pole end over end.
The sounds of bagpipes will be heard throughout the festival with both individual and band competitions. The pipers also accompany the Highland dance competitions. More music can be heard during performances by Scottish folk singers and the U.S. National Scottish Harp Competition and fiddle competitions.
Gates open each day at 8 a.m. and close at 5:30 p.m. Saturday and at 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $17 for a two-day ticket or $10 for a one-day ticket. Children age 15 and under are admitted free with a paying adult. Unaccompanied children pay $1. Free parking is available at T. C. Williams High School, 3330 King St., with shuttle service to the games from the school and the King Street Metro station. The cost is $1. For information, call (703) 838-5005 or (703) 838-4200.
ChambersFest '95 commemorates the burning of Chambersburg, Pa., by Confederate troops on July 30, 1864. This annual event offers 10 days of activities from July 21 through July 30, but the main events are scheduled July 21-23.
Opening ceremonies take place at noon, July 21, at the Courthouse Plaza. Representatives from Gotemba, Japan (Chambersburg's sister city), will take part. July 22 is Old Market Day, and streets will be closed to traffic and filled with performers and craft and food vendors. There will be music, dance, theater, juggling, acrobatics, puppet shows, magicians, films and children's theater from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Most performances are free. An information booth is located at Courthouse Plaza.
On July 22 you can also attend Airfest '95 at the Chambersburg Municipal Airport. This is an all-day event with airplane rides, sky diving, and radio-controlled model airplane shows at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Admission is free.
A series of Civil War seminars and tours will take place July 21-23. This year's theme is the Battle of Antietam. Reservations are required. Contact the Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce at (717) 264-7101.
Crabs and clams
The annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake takes place July 19. Sponsored by the Crisfield Chamber of Commerce, it is held at Somers Cove Marina in Crisfield from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. A $25 ticket allows you to eat as much as you wish from a menu of steamed crabs and clams, fried fish, a clam raw bar, fried clam strips, corn on the cob, watermelon and other summer fare. Tickets are limited, so check before you go. Call (410) 968-2500.
At the same location on July 22 you can attend the annual Watermen's Folklife Festival, sponsored by the Gov. J. Millard Tawes Historical Museum, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Activities are geared to the life of the Chesapeake Bay watermen and include crab-pot making and net making, boat building, crab picking and oyster shucking. A decoy carver will conduct carving classes.
Davey Crockett and Tom Wisner will sing songs of the Chesapeake Bay, and there will be games for children and Scales and Tails, a presentation using live animals. Other attractions include crafts booths, a silent auction and boat rides. Call (410) 968-2501.
Blueberries and crafts
It's blueberry time on Chincoteague Island, Va., and on July 22 you can attend the 10th annual Blueberry Festival and Craft Show at Chincoteague High School on North Main Street from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The craft show brings a working silversmith, an outdoor furniture maker, local carvers and artists and several others from the mid-Atlantic region to display their work. Treats include blueberry ice cream and blueberry pie, and you can buy blueberries in bulk. A singing group and bagpipers will entertain, and an auction is scheduled at 12:45 p.m. Admission is free. Proceeds will benefit the Deborah Hospital Foundation. Call (804) 336-5009.
Down on the farms
How would you like to spend a day in the country picking your own vegetables, cutting a bouquet of flowers, fishing in a pond or watching your children climb in a haystack? The Montgomery County Farm Tour & Harvest Sale on July 22 is an opportunity to do all of these things and more. The tour visits 19 farms in Montgomery County from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each farm provides a different experience: One has a petting zoo, another offers wine tastings, others have pony rides and hayrides, fields of flowers, a restaurant, free ice cream -- the list goes on. You can spend a whole day at one farm or visit several.
A brochure with a list of the various farms and a map is available from any public library in Montgomery County and from the Conference and Visitors Center at 12900 Middlebrook Road in Germantown. The center is in the UpCounty Government Center and is open on tour day from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The tour is free, but some farms do charge a fee for parking. Call (301) 217-2345.
Music at Orkney Springs
The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival opens for its 33rd season July 21 on the grounds of the Orkney Springs Hotel, a turn-of-the-century spa and mineral-springs resort in Orkney Springs, Va. Symphony concerts are scheduled the first two weekends, with a musical tribute to World War II July 21 and a classical masterworks concert July 22, followed by the music of Broadway and Hollywood July 28 and a choral masterworks concert July 29. Seating is available in the covered pavilion or on the lawn, and ticket prices range from $9 to $15.
On the first two weekends, there will also be a fine arts and craft show on the hotel lawn from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and noon to 8 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. Other attractions are afternoon programs for children: The Bob Brown Puppets will perform "Peter and the Wolf" July 22, and a program of Latin American music and dance by the Kaswa Latin American Folkdance Company is scheduled July 29. Tickets cost $5 for adults; free for children and students.
For the complete summer schedule, call (800) 459-3396.