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Tartan Festival in Minden celebrates Scottish heritage in Deep South

Scottish Society of the Louisiana Hielands

A farm pasture in Minden, Louisiana, will be transformed into a Scottish festival Saturday with food, music and activities that honor the land that’s famous for bagpipes and kilts. 

Shelia Hoh of Shreveport is coordinating the 13th annual Tartan Festival, an undertaking of the Scottish Society of the Louisiana Hielands. The group was formed in the late ‘90s with a mission to educate people about their Scottish heritage and promote the culture in northwest Louisiana. Hoh says festival goers will see a lot of people proudly sporting plaid, and for good reason.

“Tartan refers to the fabric, the plaid material that represents each family or clan. We have various clans represented at the festival. We also have a genealogist on the festival grounds. They will help you see if you have Scottish ancestry,” Hoh said.

Four Celtic bands are slated to perform, including Smithfield Fair and the Traveling Murphys. The curious highlight of the festival happens just after 3 p.m., according to Hoh, with the annual boniest knees contest. It’s hosted by Red River Radio commentator Brian O’Nuanain who says it’s the highlight of his year.

You get a bunch of men -- six or seven -- up on a stage wearing their kilts. You get a woman. You blindfold her. Then, she has to decide which man has the best knees. She goes along from one set of knees to the next, feeling the knees, and then assesses which man has the boniest knees,” O’Nuanain said.

The Scottish Tartan Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at Scotland Farms in Minden, which is home to a herd of Highland cattle.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.