“You've got to be joking….”
“Is this for real?”
“I don't believe it!”
“I've heard of this!”
“I've always wanted to go…”
“My friend has got to see this!”
“I saw you on television!”
“Are you really Toddish McWong?”
These are some of the comments that were provoked when attendees to the BC Highland Games
walked in the front gate and discovered a booth proudly displaying the
name “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” in big red letters. On each side of
the tent's pillars were display boards with newsclippings about the
infamous “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner.
With Sunnette Jones and Bruce Jarvis (of Seattle) at the BC Highland Games – photo by Margaret Ferguson
Draping across the front table of the booth were red cotton t-shirts
arranged from Women's XS to Men's XS proudly displaying the backs and
fronts of the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat team designs. On
top of the table were displayed shirts for sale $30 as a fundraiser for
the dragon boat team, as well as pictures of the 2004 dinners, pictures
of dragonboats and especially the “dragon boat float” that was the Gung
Haggis Fat Choy entry in the inaugural Vancouver St. Patrick's Day
Parade in 2004.
Nobody ever said “You are a disgrace to Scottish Culture, laddie!” or
“Get thee back to where you came from you Chinese heathen!”
No…. not at all…
“Toddish McWong,” cried out Harry McGrath when he entered the main gate
and walked up to my booth. Harry is the coordinator for the Centre Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University. He loves the concepts behind Gung Haggis Fat Choy.
“We are like family here,” said Jim Bain one of the festival organizers
and also a Grand Chieftain of the Sons Of Scotland. Bain himself had just
earlier in the week attended a Chinese Mun Yet (One month old) coming
out party for his own grandchild… as his wife is Chinese Canadian,
and his children hapa (Chinese and Scottish Canadians).
Bain was very pleased with the multicultural aspect of the BC Highland
Games. In one pipe band there is a drummer of South Asian
descent. There was a Chinese vendor selling hats. There was
Mango shave ice by a Taiwanese family vendor. And when you looked
around, observant eyes would spot the occaisional Chinese guys wearing
kilts, and families of mixed race leading children of blended ethnicity.
People were generally very happy to find the Gung Haggis Fat Choy
booth, talk about the dinner, and dragon boating. Talk about
their experiences in multicultural families, or that their (Scottish
descendent) son has been living in China, or that their (Chinese
descendent) daughter just got back from Scotland.
They pointed to the picture of the kilted Chinese lion head figure and
laughed. They asked how to join a dragon boat team. They
asked me to pose for pictures with them in front of the booth.
My friend “Bear”of Bear Kilts
was there. Bear has become one of my mentors in kilt wearing
culture, and even has his own blog titled The MacBitseach. He checked in on me throughout the day, and was glad to
see me have a booth there and telling people that I actually did wear
my “maple leaf tartan” while paddling dragon boats. I gave his
son “Cub” a Gung Haggis Fat Choy dragon boat shirt, as Cub also checked
in on me, and helped relieve me to grab some food or drink. And
at the end of the day… Bear came over to say good bye.
“I like your sgian dhu” he said…
He nodded down to the cell phone tucked in my right sock where the ceremonial knife sgian dhu is traditionally kept.
We both chuckled and shook hands.
pictures and more stories to come….