Highland Games at Old Westbury Gardens finds corporate sponsor

Christian Araos

The Long Island Scottish Festival and Highland Games is going corporate.

During the annual community celebration held at Old Westbury Gardens on Saturday, organizers of the event announced that it will now be managed by a corporation.

The event was operated this year — as in past years — by Clan MacDuff.

“Our hope is that we can attract corporate sponsors that will help us keep this Scottish Festival going for many years,” said Andy MacInnes, chief and Fair Committee chairman, in the festival’s program.

MacInnes said the Clan MacDuff still exists as an associated organization.

MacInnes said the corporation will function as an all-volunteer, non-profit organization. It now has 501 (c) 3 tax exempt status and is also exempt from paying state taxes. 

“If somebody would like to sponsor a pipe band, they can,” MacInnes said. “Like this year Dime Savings Bank paid for the antique car show we put on.”

Saturday’s festival featured tap dancers, traditional competitions for adults and children and performances from Mactalla Mor and Charlie Zahm. Zahm said he has performed at the festival five or six times.

“It’s one of the best Scottish events on the Eastern Seaboard,” Zahm said. “It gives people a chance to celebrate their Scottish Heritage.”

Though Zahm was performing in a shaded part of the Gardens, the mid-80s weather did cause an elderly woman seated to watch him to perform to pass out from heat exhaustion. She was tended to by officers from the Old Westbury Police Department who did not release any additional information on her condition.

This year’s event was a success with about 7,000 people in attendance — a similar figure to last year, MacInnes said. 

Organizers rented the auxillary parking lot of Westbury High School and ran a shuttle service to the Gardens. 

MacInnes said the 7,000 is right around the limit that Old Westbury Police will allow before congestion becomes an issue.

MacInnes said the corporate sponsorships could also allow organizers to schedule a rain date for the festival. He said the festival has not been cancelled due to rain in recent years but said Hurricane Irene crippled attendance for the 2011 festival since out-of-town attendees stayed at home for fears they would be unable to return home. 

The Clan will be holding more events throughout the year including a Burns Supper. He said the clan and corporation will continue to work in preserving Scottish culture.

“We filed as an educational institution because that’s what we are,” MacInnes said. “We’ve worked with libraries to show Scottish culture and we’re going to continue to educate the public on Scottish culture.”

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Christian Araos

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