One thing that is sad is that while the games themselves have grown tremendously, there has been a major downward trend in the popularity of the dancing. When I was was little kid competing (gah, was it really that long ago?), the dancing was always on the main stage and it was clearly the big attraction. The games themselves were smaller then. It was just the dancing, piping, athletics (caber toss, etc), and a soccer match. There'd be a few vendors mostly just selling stuff dancers and pipers needed, some food, and a few clan tents. Now, however, there's all sorts of other stuff. This includes a celtic rock band, a classic UK cars competition, and a dog agility competition. While this is all fine stuff, I feel its sort of diluting the core stuff. The dog agility thing is a good example. I love dogs, and I think its a fine thing, but its not especially Scottish. Sure, the border collies kick major ass at it, but its not like its restricted to Scottish dogs, and its not the same as the sheep dog trials that I used to see at some of the other games. There are also a lot more vendors, though again, its not just the essentials being sold anymore. If anything, its harder to find a new pair of dance shoes or a new practice chanter. It seems more like the Ren faire people have discovered this other place they can sell their good. Again, I have mixed feelings. Its not like I don't like this stuff, but I worry that they're pushing out the folks who might be able to sell me something a bit more essetial, like a new pair of jig shoes.
The dancing attendance has gone way downhill. I used to think it was just because my old dancing teacher, who runs the dancing at this competion, was so lame that people just weren't coming. Well, apparently attendance is down all over. That bugs me. When I was a kid you'd usually have somewhere between 8 to twelve people in your category, and that was after they subdivided it by age. Open would often be divided up a lot, generally into five different age divisions. The numbers just don't support that anymore. Also, this was the first time there were no boys at all in the competition. One of the really cool things about Highland Dancing is that boys and girls compete directly against one another. Of course the men have been in the minority since long before I started, but they were still there. Its sad to see the boys go. It is traditionally male dancing after all, not to mention it does amazing things to a guy's physique. Interest in the dancing has also dwindled. Its not on the main stage anymore... the main stage had the celtic rock group for most of the day. Maybe its just me, but I feel this is the wrong set of priorities. I'm wondering if the piping competion is suffering as well.
Oh, and on a related side note, Utilikilts was one of the vendors. Umm. I suppose that *technically* they are kilts... but they're just wrong. When I think kilt I'm thinking of a dancer's kilt in a nice tartan with pleats deep enough to hide your fingers if you slide your hand into one; I'm thinking about something that is as nicely tailored as a Saville Row suit. I am decided not thinking about the cargo pants equivalent of a kilt, complete with huge pockets, no tartan and no pleats. Sorry dcltdw. Proper kilts do not have pockets. That's why the guys wear a sporrin on the front and a knife in their hose.