BOYD-L ArchivesArchiver > BOYD > 2001-08 > 0999277367
From: Lauren Boyd <>
Subject: [BOYD] History: Caledonian Club of San Francisco's Scottish Gathering and Games
Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2001 10:26:58 -0700
Dear Cousins, Listmembers and Members of the House of Boyd Society:
There, to my knowledge, is no older Scottish Games and Gathering held
in America, and probably the world, than those put on by the San
Francisco Caledonia Club. Colin M. Boyd served as "Chief" of the club
during the years 1879, 1880, 1881.
Participation in these games are strictly by invitation only and
in accepting applications are guided by The Standing Council of
Scottish Chiefs; The Court of the Lord Lyon and by the publication
of the "Scottish Clan and Family Encyclopedia" by George Way of Plean
& Romilly Squire.
House of Boyd Society, Inc. is proud to have been invited to attend
for many years.
I have pasted below, the history of the event as told on their web site.
Lauren M. Boyd
House of Boyd Society, Inc.
Clan Level Member: Council of Scottish Clans and Associations
Vice President, Scottish Information Society
The first Caledonian Club of San Francisco's Scottish Gathering and Games was held in
1866, the year after the Civil War ended; not a year has been missed since then!
The Caledonian Club's Scottish Gathering and Games is one of the oldest and largest ethnic
festivals in the United States; it has grown from a family picnic in 1866 into a ticketed
festival which draws up to 50,000 each year.
The Scottish Gathering and Games has a format known as Highland Games, which has been
passed from generation to generation from the Scotland of antiquity to preserve Scottish
traditions and have fabulous parties! Hundreds of Highland Games are held throughout the
world every year. The format includes competitions in athletics, music and dance.
Audience members enjoy the contests and have hearty helpings of food and drink. Scottish
families, known as clans, set up tents which they visit to exchange family history, trace
family tree and distribute clan memorabilia, such as their coat-of-arms, clan tartan
(distinctive plaid woolens) and other Scottish handcrafted goods.
Most Scots take this opportunity to wear their kilts and other traditional accouterments;
it is a time for showing off. At each Highland Games, vendors provide a variety of
memorabilia and goods. Visitors can be fitted for a kilt, order a set of bag pipes or buy
The Club's inaugural Scottish Gathering and Games, a family picnic with athletic contests,
was held in a field at 12th and Market Streets in San Francisco on Thanksgiving Day
1866. Five days previously, on November 24, seventeen Scottish American men had formed
the Caledonian Club of San Francisco. The second Scottish Games was held in San
Francisco on November 28, 1867 and attracted 4,000 people. By then, the Caledonian Club
had grown to 97 members.
In 1868, the third Scottish Games was held in Sausalito; a wood cut illustration of that
event appeared in the Illustrated London News and often is reproduced in Scottish Games
programs. Two Scottish Games were held in 1871; the second was a benefit for victims of
the Chicago fire (it netted $1,200).
In 1875 the Caledonian Club filed incorporation papers with the State of California. By
1894, the Club had grown to 650 members. Membership reached 1,225 in 1896, much larger
than the Clubs membership today (around 300).
In 1962, the Scottish Games moved to the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, the
beginning of a period of growth into a major ticketed entertainment event. In the past 15
years, increased advertising has helped propel the event into the largest Highland Games
in the world in some years.
By the time the Scottish Games moved to Pleasanton in 1994, the event had ballooned to an
average annual attendance of more than 35,000. A larger facility, the Alameda County
Fairgrounds, allowed the Games to grow to up to 50,000 over two days (in 1997 and 1998).
Still produced by volunteers from the Caledonian Club of San Francisco, this unique event
is preparing to emerge in the 21st Century as a major ticketed festival and an historical