SEA-AIRY SCOTTISH FUN: The Highlands of Scotland are a good distance away from the Ventura area, one could accurately say, but Central Coast-y city does a fine job of playing the part of a cooler, damper place, thanks to its Pacific-snug location. You could almost imagine yourself being across the world, just a pinch down the road from some scenic moors and crags, when you see men in kilts stroll in, many wielding bagpipes. In short? Ventura's Seaside Games have quite the authentic flavor, due, in part, to that ocean-close setting at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. But the athletes and musicians and dancers are the real genuine treat of the fall weekend, putting on shows and displaying prowess that is quite entertaining and astounding, both. And the games are set to toss a caber or two -- not a snap, by any means -- from Friday, Oct. 10 through Sunday, Oct. 12.
THE ATHLETICS: Seeing someone toss a caber or throw a hammer live, right in front of you, is an experience you'll likely replay, complete with arm movements, for friends. Why? The ancient games of Scotland are serious business, and those cabers and hammers come with some hefty weight attached. And let us pause to acknowledge the Sheaf Toss, where athletes must "pick up a 50 lb sack of hay with a pitch fork and toss it to the top of the 'loft.'" Yeah, you'll replay that one again, for pals.
THE ENTERTAINMENT: Bagpiping, both in bands and solo, is the sound-filled heart of the weekend, but Highland and Country Dancing, the West Coast Harp Gathering, and the Seaside Scottish Fiddle Competition all nicely fill the cultural calendar. How often do supreme athletic mojo and mondo musical ability unite in a single place? One that pays accurate meteorological tribute to the place from which the games and entertainment sprung? Ventura, you are a good piece from Scotland, but being there, over the Seaside Games weekend, does feel like we've jumped the Atlantic, just by driving up the 101.