A toast to Scottish heritage

Fling for fun . . . Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations trustee Joanne Rose and chairwoman Ruth MacEachern are excited about the upcoming heritage celebrations, Highland Fling. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

It’s time to break out the tartan, settle your hankering for haggis and enjoy a wee dram over the skirl of the bagpipes.

The Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations (OVHC) have flung back into action to celebrate all things Scottish with this year’s theme, Highland Fling.

The celebrations, held from November 16 to 20, were cancelled last year due to Covid-19 and the uncertainty surrounding alert level changes.

OVHC chairwoman Ruth MacEachern said she was over the moon the celebrations were returning and the response from loyal followers of the celebrations, community, and businesses had been amazing.

‘‘Last year we made the right call to cancel, and this year we think we made the right call in March when we said ‘let’s do it’,’’ Ms MacEachern said.

‘‘Everyone we’ve approached has been really enthusiastic that we’re all in.

‘‘People are so pleased that we’re on — everyone just liked the colour, the vibrancy that it adds to the town.’’

The theme Highland Fling has been resurrected from last year, and will celebrate the deep Scottish connection throughout North Otago.

The annual big events, including the garden party, heritage ball, grand parade and cycle races, had been confirmed early into preparations.

Throughout the week, portraits of Scottish migrants will be displayed, along with displays and lectures at the Waitaki Museum, Forrester Gallery, and the Oamaru Public Library.

The Oamaru Opera House will host whisky tasting and there will be tartan weaving, design competitions and scone competitions, and a special haggis hunt.

Totara Estate, Clarks Mill, Teschemakers and the Junction Hotel will all be offering tours, alongside the traditional walking tours, and St Paul’s Presbyterian Church will host a lunchtime concert each day.

Ms MacEachern said they hoped to organise demonstrations from the Hororata Highland Games and had bagpipers from Oamaru and Christchurch performing throughout the weekend.

For the first time since 2018, the Oamaru Challenge Cup will be up for grabs between the Oamaru Rowing Club and the Royal New Zealand Navy.

The teams will row twice around the Oamaru Harbour, following the grand parade, in vintage cutter boats on loan from Scott’s Own Sea Scouts.

About 40 associated groups were hosting events throughout the celebrations and Ms MacEachern wanted more businesses to be involved.

‘‘We’re hoping to engage a little bit more with businesses all along Thames and Harbour Sts to co-ordinate activities, so we have a real buzz going all the way down Thames and through to the precinct,’’ she said.

The Highland Fling allowed the celebrations to put together something for everyone and Ms MacEachern looked forward to seeing the whole event come together.

‘‘What we’re trying to do, too, is have as many events that are free or low-cost as possible, because we know it’s been a rough couple of years for people.

‘‘We just want people to come along.

‘‘They don’t have to dress up, just come along and have a look and have a good time.’’