Smoky Mountain Highland Games

My husband and I love our Scottish heritage. My mother’s paternal family was nearly all Scottish and my husband is a dual citizen because he was born in Scotland to a Scottish mother. So, the Scottish culture is important to our family. To further our children’s interest in the culture we have made a regular habit of traveling to the Smokey Mountains Highland games.

However, the games were not held during COVID, and the location was moved once they resumed. They are now at the Smokey Mountain Heritage Center in Townsend, Tennessee.

The grounds are neat and there are actual indoor restrooms in addition to the usual port–potties! There was plenty of parking and the drive to get to the grounds was lovely. We drove leisurely down Highway 411 and enjoyed nearly constant mountain views and the sleepy towns that the road weaves through. Once we arrived the line moved smoothly and the parking was easy. There is a $5 parking fee.

Once in we went straight to the kid’s tent and signed up our daughters to partake in the children’s competition. Any kiddos 6-13 years old may enter with no cost any of the 4 children’s events: the kilted mile (run), the caber toss (kid-sized), the stone throw, and the tug-o-war. Medals are given to first, second, and third-place winners. The girls loved competing!

We then traveled to the food court area. While there were many options for trying foods unique to the Scottish culture, the ones we tried were fantastic. We shared nibbles of a traditional Scottish fry-up (breakfast plate) which consisted of two fried eggs, beef haggis, roasted tomatoes and mushrooms, baked beans, and fried sausages. Then we tried a Celtic combo that featured shepherd’s pie, Scottish BBQ, and haggis. We also had a scotch egg, a beef and mushroom pie, and a sausage roll.


We then looked around the shops and let the kids buy cheap trinkets. We bought some specialty shortbread tins for a family member who collects them. Afterward, we went to some of the clan tents and watched a sheepdog demonstration. There was also a passport program where each child could collect stamps in their book and turn it in for a prize. Each clan tent tries to have something for the little ones. There is also highland dancers and traditional folk storytellers. There are also piping competitions and live music with a modern and Celtic flare.

On the way home we stopped at a delightful spot called, Mudpuppy’s. This little gem is on the lake in Vonore, Tennessee. The burgers and desserts were delicious and watching the sunset over the lake created an unbeatable atmosphere.

This was an excellent day for our family. I hope for many others to enjoy the heritage of the area and the people who originally settled here.

Dixie Sandlin is a mom of four ready to make a great family vacation you. She has travelled widely in the United States and to Central America and Europe. She loves other cultures and as a life-long learner she loves incorporating new experiences, history, and making literature connections in her trips. She can be reached at 423-641-0020 or by emailing