Scotch, Irish heritage hook for Clover’s annual Feis Cholbhair festival

adouglas@heraldonline.comJune 8, 2013 

Thor Gylfason lets loose the hammer at the festival in Clover on Saturday.

JEFF SOCHKO — SPECIAL TO THE HERALD

— Athletes from five states converged in Clover on Saturday to throw toss “cabers” and eat “haggis” – ground up sheep heart, liver and lungs served in a boiled sheep stomach with oatmeal and spices.

The sports, food and Irish dancing and music were part of Clover’s 17th annual Feis Cholbhair Scotch-Irish Festival.

Some of the athletes, such as 40-year-old Jeff Crouch from Lenoir, N.C., have attended the local festival for more than a decade.

Crouch placed third in the hammer throwwhere men threw a 22-pound hammer similar to a shot-put more than 80 feet across the lawn in front of the Clover Memorial Stadium.

He also participated in the “cabers” toss – a traditional Scottish game where athletes hurl a tree-like pole weighing more than 150 pounds.

“Caber” is the Gaelic word for tree.

Crouch, a third grade teacher, said the draw of Clover’s event is the area’s rich Scottish and Irish heritage.

He started power lifting weights more than ten years ago and converted his strength skills into throwing. Now, he attends at least ten games a year similar to the one on Saturday in Clover.

Scott Medlin, Crouch’s trainer, said athletes came from Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and other parts of South Carolina on Saturday.

The competition isn’t “cut throat,” he said, but the athletes train hard.

Medlin, 57, from Catawba, N.C., was the athletic director for this year’s Clover games.

Many people such as himself, Medlin said, just “stumble into” the sports.

“A friend will say, ‘Why don’t you try this’ – and pretty soon, you’re hooked.”

The Clover festival also included music and dancing.

Children and teenagers from Charlotte’s Rince na h'Eireann School of Irish Dance performed on stage.

Vendors from neighboring states such as Lin Robinson from Shelby, N.C., also set up at the event.

He and his wife sold blades and blazons among a handful of other vendors selling traditional Scottish items and Celtic gear.

The Clover festival, he said, has a familial feel and allows people to connect with their heritage.

Robinson is part of the Clan Gunn – a Highland Scottish clan.

A clan gathering and a heritage festival is like a family reunion, he said.

“It’s just a great time to come out and have a good day and see people and eat some exotic food like haggis.”

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Anna Douglas •  803-329-4068

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