News and notes from Fredericksburg's entertainment scene
Celebrate Tartan Day downtown this Saturday
BY JESSE SCOTT
FOR THE FREE LANCE–STAR
The Irish get to bask in green and Guinness on one day in March.
But one day in April is all about the Scottish.
In 2008, President George W. Bush officially declared April 6 National Tartan Day, a day to celebrate the spirit and vibrant heritage of past and present Scots.
In honor of National Tartan Day, the Scottish Society of Fredericksburg will host a celebration of its own in the heart of downtown Fredericksburg.
Fredericksburg’s Tartan Day is this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. outside the Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop. Admission to the family-friendly event is free to the public.
“National Tartan Day is a fairly new holiday in the United States,” said Ernest Malcolm Jr., chief of the Scottish Society of Fredericksburg. “What better place to celebrate Tartan Day than in downtown Fredericksburg? We have a strong Scottish heritage here, and many of our famous residents were Scottish.”
Tartan is a unique pattern of various colors interwoven in a horizontal and vertical fashion. The pattern is a staple in Scottish kilts in the ’Burg and abroad.
The long list of Fredericksburg-area Scottish descendants includes Alexander Spotswood, the British Army lieutenant colonel the county of Spotsylvania is named for; and Hugh Mercer, a physician and dear friend of George Washington. According to the Scottish Society of Fredericksburg, the city itself was built, in large part, by a few diligent Scottish merchants.
“A group of Scottish merchants and tobacco merchants really played a key role in helping develop Fredericksburg, Alexandria and a number of other Virginia towns,” said Malcolm. “The Scottish community during those times really helped make Fredericksburg what it is today.”
The Tartan Day festivities will focus on Fredericksburg’s Scottish history, music and folk tales. Members of the Scottish Society of Fredericksburg will be on hand to help visitors trace their Scottish roots and pinpoint on a map where their families came from in Scotland.
Deborah Wenrich, of the Welsh–American band Moch Pryderi, will provide a serene musical backdrop with her folksy fiddle tunes. Jeannette Macdonald, a local storyteller, will be in the courtyard behind the apothecary shop to tell a handful of Scottish folk tales geared toward children.
“[Macdonald] is a really animated storyteller and can hold any child’s attention,” said Malcolm. “She gets into her characters like very few can.”
The Scottish Society of Fredericksburg meets monthly at the headquarters of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library. The society is much like the Scots themselves—always willing to welcome you with open arms.
“We hold a number of events throughout the year and are always looking for new people to share this wonderful culture with,” said Melissa Klanecky, a longtime member of the Scottish Society of Fredericksburg. “We’re a group of people of Scottish descent and non-Scottish descent that simply loves to get together and explore an important part of our history.”
What: Tartan Day
Where: Hugh Mercer Apothecary Shop, 1020 Caroline St.
When: Saturday, April 7, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Info: 540/ 455-6882; facebook.com/pages/Scottish-Society-of-Fredericksburg-VA
Jesse Scott is a freelance writer and Fredericksburg native.