The annual Sarasota Highland Games & Celtic Festival is hosted by the Scottish Heritage Society of Sarasota. Scottish settlers landed on Sarasota Bay in 1885, and 135 years later, the city is still celebrating its deep Scottish roots, and the arrival of the first bottle of Single Malt.
The 26th edition of this annual event was held on Saturday, February 1, at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds. It was preceded by an all-night rain that, unfortunately, continued into the day of the Festival, followed by a stiffening wind. This weather would have made the early settlers feel right at home. The most popular venue was the large beer tent with live music, filled by spectators seeking refuge, entertainment and refreshments. But, by early afternoon, the weather improved and Festival attendance improved noticeably.
For the past ten years, our club has been invited to show our cars as a part of the Festival entertainment. Despite the inclement weather this year, 11 intrepid club members showed up with their LBC’s. The Highland Games judge(s) made the following awards:
On January 19, our club was invited to display our cars at the Venice/Nokomis Rotary Club Arts Fest which took place adjacent to the Venice, FL Airport. This is another one of our long-standing annual events.
Through their Futures Program, the Rotary Club does exemplary work with young people providing college scholarships to deserving students in our area. The arts fest is their main yearly funding event and we generally support them with a strong showing. We are the only car club invited and the organizers have now positioned us up front which offers maximum exposure.
Although the weather in mid-January can be dicey, this year we lucked out and were blessed with beautiful sunny skies and warm breezes. We had a great turnout with 22 cars – 21 British and 1 German(?). After the show, 14 members adjourned to the British Open Pub in Venice for lunch/early dinner and refreshments.
Jim Wilson and Bruce Skaggs provided input for this story.
Jim Wilson, Club President, filed the following report.
On Friday, January 3, I drove over to Daytona International Speedway to see the practice session for the 24 hours of Daytona Endurance Race coming up January 22-26, 2020. The “Roar” is a special event sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America, International Motor Sports Association and Daytona International Speedway. Scouts and their families camp in the infield for two nights, and tours, track walks and autograph sessions are included for the kids. Best of all, those under 15 are free. All others pay only $20 a day, which includes full access to the pits, unheard of before now. What a deal!
Racing and practice were continuous the whole three days. The new Corvette was a huge draw. I was able to take some great pictures (even touched the front spoiler!). They change the rotor, caliper, and pads of the Corvette front brake rotor assemblies in less than a minute four times during the 24-hour race. Among some of the other famous marques in attendance were the Cadillac DPi cars, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Porsche GT RSR, Maclaren, Acura NSX, BMW M3, and Aston Martin.
Several famous drivers were seen walking through the pits including: Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Kyle Busch of NASCAR fame.
This is the third year I have attended this event; the huge number of families and kids makes it special. I plan to return next year
Like sands through the hourglass, so passed another rendition of our club’s oldest annual event. As in previous years, the popular January 1st Potluck Picnic and White Elephant gift exchange was held at Turtle Beach, located at the southern terminus of Siesta Key. The food table was groaning with a variety of yummy dishes while the gift table was loaded with gaily wrapped presents ready for new owners. The weather was pleasant under a cloudless sky, helping to draw out 19 British cars and about 44 members.
This year’s gift exchange featured a number of items that presumably came from holiday merchandise shelf clearance sales at local stores. But the most sought-after gift chosen was a new electric fuel pump. It quickly went through the 3 times max trade limit before landing with its permanent owner. The cutest gift was a battery-powered toy snake that slithered all over the floor. It was a fun-filled outing and a great start for the year 2020.
On December 15, Bruce & Carolyn Skaggs and Jack & Karen Knuese plotted a fabulous Tour of Holiday Lights through the neighborhoods where some of Sarasota’s finest and most elaborate decorations were on display. Thirteen cars were on the drive that culminated at the home of the Skaggs for dessert and coffee. Unfortunately, there were so many other gawkers with the same idea that a few members got separated from the group and ended at the Skaggs’ via independent GPS. Bruce said this mishap will be taken into account in the planning for next year. Regardless, it was a great night weather-wise for the drive and everyone had a good time, with a delicious ending.