What to know
Lyon College will once again combine its beloved Arkansas Scottish Festival with the excitement of homecoming for one big weekend-long celebration, ScotsFest, from Oct. 27-29 on the Lyon College campus in Batesville.
The Arkansas Scottish Festival began in 1979 as a small fair on the campus’s intramural field as a way to pay homage to the Scottish heritage of the college’s Presbyterian founders. It has grown into one of the premier festivals in Arkansas and one of the most prominent festivals in the United States for honoring Scottish heritage and traditions.
This is the 43rd year of the Arkansas Scottish Festival and the third year the festival will be combined with the Lyon College homecoming.
Last year, the event drew more than 5,500 festival-goers and generated an estimated $1.2 million in economic impact to Independence County.
Presented by Lyon College and lead partner, Experience Independence, ScotsFest will feature several new events this year, including a vintage swap meet, a comedy show featuring “America’s Got Talent” alumnus Cam Bertrand, a free rocket-building workshop, and performances by the Piper Jones Band and Celtic musician Misty Posey.
ScotsFest will open at noon on Friday, with a food truck fair, vendors and Scottish clan exhibitions. Featured entertainers in the Ozark Beer Co. entertainment tent on Friday include third-generation Arkansas musician Garrett Duncan and his wife, Ashton, at 4 p.m.; popular central Arkansas country rock band Drasco at 6 p.m.; and award-winning Arkansas bluegrass band The Gravel Yard at 8 p.m.
A variety of homecoming events are planned for Friday, including open classes, a Founders’ Day choir reunion, a Founders’ Day convocation, and an alumni and friends awards celebration and social. For more information on the alumni events, contact Lyon College Executive Director of Alumni Engagement Cindy Barber at [email protected].
"We look forward to welcoming alumni back to campus all year long, but there's nothing like the reunions and fun during ScotsFest,” Barber said. “Just follow the sounds of the bagpipes."
On Saturday, Oct. 28, the festival will get underway at 8 a.m. with historical reenactments by MacLachlan's Jacobite Highlanders and Colonel Munro's 37th Regiment of Foot, a Highland heavy athletics competition, Scottish clan reunions, sheep dog demonstrations, rocket demonstrations, pipe band exhibitions, Highland dancing, a British car show, the Li’l Highlanders Fun Zone and entertainment throughout the day featuring Celtic songstress Posey.
A vintage swap meet is set from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Student Recreation Center in Becknell Gymnasium. The student-led event will showcase the best in vintage toys, sports memorabilia, fashion, crafts, collectibles, jewelry, artwork and culture. Proceeds from a $3 admission to the swap meet benefit Lyon College student organizations. To register a booth, please contact Pam Palermo at [email protected].
The Ozark Beer Co. entertainment tent will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with entertainment throughout the day, featuring popular Celtic performers, the Piper Jones Band, a lyrical, high-energy trio that maintains a strong musical base in traditional tunes from Scotland, Ireland and Appalachia.
There will be a band and clan march-past followed by opening ceremonies at 12 p.m. with a mass pipe band concert in the Couch Garden. Afternoon and evening special events include a dog show, sheep dog demonstrations, and a feast and ceilidh.
Homecoming events on Saturday include a tailgate event, pep rally, student organization reunions, alumni ball games, and alumni and friends meet-and-greets.
In Saturday’s homecoming match-up, the Lyon College Scots soccer teams will take on Webster University, with the women’s match at 1 p.m. and the men’s match at 3 p.m. on Huser Field on the Lyon College campus.
At 9 p.m., there will be a free comedy show featuring popular comedian Cam Bertrand, who became famous for his TikTok account featuring standup comedy videos and his appearance on "America's Got Talent."
The festival opens at 8 a.m. on Sunday and includes historical reenactments, sheep dog demonstrations, Highland dancing, and a Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan worship service at 11 a.m. in the entertainment tent.
At 1 p.m., there will be a bonniest knees contest followed by the Kilted Fun Run for adults, students and children. Kilted Fun Run registration is $25 for adults and $10 for students and children.
Homecoming events on Sunday include a Club 50 celebration for those who have been alumni for over 50 year at noon in the Maxfield Room of Edwards Common, with the class of 1973’s induction into society.
The festival closes at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
"Lyon College is honored to be a part of the rich tapestry of Arkansas's cultural heritage, and the Arkansas Scottish Festival stands as a testament to our commitment to preserving and sharing these traditions,” said Dr. David Hutchison, vice president for advancement. “Through music, dance and the vibrant display of Scottish culture, the Arkansas Scottish Festival demonstrates the power of community and the enduring partnership between Lyon College and our surrounding region"
General admission to the festival is free, though some individual and alumni events require a separate registration.
The full schedule can be seen at arscottishfest.com.