Lyon College will kick off the celebration of its 150th anniversary with ScotsFest, the 42nd Arkansas Scottish Festival and Lyon College Homecoming, starting Friday (Oct. 14) through Sunday (Oct. 16) on the Batesville campus.
General admission to the festival is free, though some individual and alumni events require a registration fee.
“While every ScotsFest is a great festival, this year represents something special in the life of our community: an opportunity to come together, alumni and friends alike, from every corner of Arkansas and from across the country to celebrate 150 years of history and tradition at Lyon College,” said Dr. David Hutchison, Vice President for Advancement.
The Arkansas Scottish Festival began in 1979 as a small fair on the campus’ intramural field as a way to pay homage to the Scottish heritage of the College’s Presbyterian founders. It has grown into one of the better-known festivals in Arkansas and one of the most prominent festivals in the United States for honoring Scottish heritage and traditions. This is the second year the festival will be combined with the Lyon College Homecoming.
Presented by Lyon College and lead partners White River Health and Experience Independence, ScotsFest will feature a variety of activities in celebration of Lyon College’s sesquicentennial, including special musical performances, alumni and friends gatherings, Highland dancing, sheepdog demonstrations, a dog show, children’s activities, a bonniest knees contest, and a feast and ceilidh. .
“The whole weekend is really a huge kickoff for 10 straight days of special events and activities that showcase our unique story as a pioneer college in the foothills of the Ozarks, our journey to a national liberal arts college today, and looking forward to what great things are in store not just for Lyon College, but for Arkansas,” Hutchinson said.
Cindy Barber, executive director of Alumni Engagement, said, “There’s always an air of excitement on campus during ScotsFest, and we love seeing so many alumni and friends come home to Lyon. This year, you do not want to miss it. We look forward to celebrating our Scottish heritage, homecoming, the sesquicentennial, and Lyon College’s exciting future together with you.”
John 3:16 Ministries, a spiritual bootcamp for men with drug and alcohol addictions, will set up and take down the festival.
ScotsFest will begin with open classes, a president’s reception, alumni awards celebration and social, and the Kilted Mile race/walk at 12th and Main Street in downtown Batesville at 6 p.m.
“This year we will have several pipe bands from around the region and great opening ceremonies with all the favorites: Amazing Grace, Scotland the Brave and others,” said Jimmy Bell, Director of the Scottish Heritage Program. “Come see or enter yourself in the heavy athletics. You’ll have an opportunity to throw stones and weights for distance or height and throw some telephone poles.”
MacLachlan’s Jacobite Highlanders and Colonel Munro’s 37th Regiment of Foot will do historical reenactments Saturday morning followed by a Highland athletics competition, rocket demonstrations, pipe band exhibitions, Highland dancing, softball alumni game, Black Student Association reunion, homecoming tailgate, a British car show, Li’l Highlanders Fun Zone, Highland dancing, baseball alumni game and a Lyon volleyball game.
There will be a band and clans march-past followed by opening ceremonies at noon with a mass pipe band concert in Couch Garden. Afternoon activities include a dog show, homecoming pep rally and homecoming football game. A feast and ceilidh begin at 6 p.m., followed by a young alumni social.
“There is nothing more exciting than the colorful parade of clans, unless it’s the soul-stirring soundtrack provided by the pipe bands as the clans march past,” said Kenton Adler, Director of Development for Scottish Heritage. “And when the massed bands play together, it really can’t be beat.”
Sunday’s lineup includes a Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan worship service at 11 a.m. in the entertainment tent with tea and scones provided at 10:30 a.m., as well as sheepdog demonstrations, Highland dancing and a bonniest knees contest. A Club 50 celebration for those who have been alumni for over 50 years is set for noon in the Maxfield Room of Edwards Common, with the class of 1972’s induction into Club 50. The festival closes at 4 p.m.
“Lyon College welcomes everyone to come to this momentous occasion. ScotsFest is always one of the most, if not the most, diverse and entertaining events in Independence County. There is something for everyone of all ages. Forty-two years of practice made perfect,” said Pam Palermo, Director of Institutional Events.
In conjunction with the sesquicentennial, Founders’ Week celebrations will continue with daily activities the following week and will culminate Oct. 22 with the inauguration of Dr. Melissa Taverner, Lyon College President.
“Our 150th birthday is going to be a bash. We have a week full of events that will end with our 19th Presidential Inauguration and Sesquicentennial Black-Tie Gala,” Palermo said.
Following is a list of the ScotsFest events planned for this year. The full schedule can be seen at arscottishfest.com.