Last night’s opening reception at the New Brunswick Highland Games Festival was really neat. This morning, I woke up to meet with a young Highland dancer and piper by the name of Jasmin Astle. 17 years old, she’s from Southhampton, NB and travels all over to compete in Highland dancing.
I was interviewing her for my cultural dancing book and her and her mom Alison proved to be the type of charming people I love to include in stories. Unfortunately, she won’t be performing this weekend, but I can see her piping in a few performances.
Then it was off to the W.W. Boyce Farmers’ Market, held every Saturday in downtown Fredericton (year round from 6:00 am – 1:00 pm). A lively outdoor area has vendors selling necessities like fruits and vegetables, as well as fried food and flowers.
Inside it was stuffy, with a crowd of people happily picking up their meat, bread, gifts or smoothies. A small restaurant area was jam packed with a long line up snaking around its corner. The tourist brochure I have says that there are over 200 vendors!
Scottish Highland Games Festival
Then it was back to the Highland games to see some Irish dancing by the Stanford School of Irish Dance. They were lovely, a handful of children and a few adults, as well as Patti, a young woman who is of championship calibre. They started in soft shoes doing simpler steps, which is how you would train, then moved up to the hard shoes that Riverdance made famous.
The girls were giggling and enjoying themselves, scooting back to their moms in the audience to change their shoes and gulp down mouthfuls of water. The stage broke at the beginning of the set, so the girls had to dance on the grass in front for part of the show, which was soaking wet They did fine, though, and the crowd loved their efforts.
I also caught some of the Highland Dance competitions, mostly the novice and intermediate levels. I love their smart costumes, with stiff jackets, swinging skirts and crisscross-lined high socks.
An appetizer of Massed Bands played with the Highland dancers, who kept the rhythm with their feet, rounded out the afternoon. Awards were given out and kids went home with huge grins on their faces.
Dinner was at Brewbakers, a casual but classy restaurant right on King Street. I was interviewing Barb of Barb Murray’s School of Highland Dance, as well as dining with her husband and sister.
Over a curry prawn salad, curry vegetable and tofu rice entrée and a chocolate ice cream parfait, we talked Highland dancing, Scotland, travelling, kids, plumbing and opening a cheesecake business in Fredericton (it might be a good way to fundraise for the dance school’s next trip to Scotland, in my opinion).
What I Liked:
- The New Brunswick Highland Games Festival has been great so far. I’ve just been hanging out in the dance tent to see the Highland competitions at all levels, and taking in some Celtic music and much bagpipe playing.
- I love meeting teenagers who seem so much more mature than me. That was the case with Jasmin Astle, who was so lovely. I can’t wait to take her Scottish country dance workshop tomorrow morning!
- Going out for dinner with a few locals is always a treat. Although it was formally an interview, having Barb’s family there kept things ultra casual and let the conversation slip outside of dance many times. It was a nice meal with great company.