LINCOLN — The 44th annual New Hampshire Highland Games & Festival entered the history books on Sunday afternoon, drawing an estimated 35,000 people to Loon Mountain Resort over the weekend for a celebration of all things Scottish.
“This is a big deal for us,” explained Kevin Buchanan, vice president of the Clan Buchanan Society International and a retired police officer who traveled to Loon from California to attend his first Highland Games and to meet The Buchanan (clan leader) and The Lady Buchanan, less formally known as Mike and Paula.
Mike, 61, is John Michael Baillie-Hamilton Buchanan. He is a graduate of Oxford University and the manager of Cambusmore Estate in the southern Highlands near, Callander. Paula is a medical doctor and author.
NHSCOT, the nonprofit corporation that presents the NH Highland Games & Festival, chose Clan Buchanan as the 2019 honored clan.
According to the Clan Buchanan society website, there are up to five million Buchanans worldwide, which includes “septs” that are defined as “an affiliated or allied family which is part of a larger clan in Scotland.”
Mike Buchanan said the confirmation of his petition by the Lord Lyon, King of Arms, as 20th Chief of the Name and Arms of Buchanan in 2018, has been well-received.
He said he was astonished that his succeeding to the chiefship last held by John Buchanan, who died without a male heir in 1681, has received worldwide attention.
“Everyone wants to shake my hand,” said Buchanan, noting that with some 150 highland games in the U.S. each year, plus more around the globe, his appointment book is pretty well filled.
“I’m enjoying myself so far,” said Buchanan, adding that there is “big interest in America” about Clan Buchanan.
Paula Buchanan said she was struck by how similar Lincoln is to Scotland.
“We got up last morning in Callander”, then flew to the U.S. and then drove up to Loon, she said, and “it felt like Scotland. We drove a long way to come home.”
Terri Wiltse, executive director of NH SCOTS, said organizers were “ecstatic” with the attendance figures.
Wiltse said the NH Highland Games & Festival added a lot of “try-it” activities this year, which proved popular, and also saw the return of the Heavy Athletics World Championship, which featured “the best of the best” from seven countries.
The NH Highland Games & Festival also this year featured 11 bands, including the Red Hot Chilli Pipers, which are billed as “the world’s most famous bagpipe band;” cooking demos with Gary Maclean, the National Chef of Scotland; whisky tasting; and numerous musical and dance competitions.