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ScotsFest to open Lyon College’s 150th anniversary celebration

The Lyon College Pipe Band (above) will perform at the 42nd Arkansas Scottish Festival Oct. 14-16 in Batesville. Pipers, drummers, dancers, athletes, Scottish clans and vendors travel from all corners of the country to attend the Arkansas Scottish Festival. The festival is free and open to the public. Image provided by Lyon College

Lyon College will kick off the celebration of its 150th anniversary with ScotsFest, the 42nd Arkansas Scottish Festival and Lyon College Homecoming, from Oct. 14 to Oct. 16 on the Batesville campus.

General admission to the festival is free, though some individual and alumni events require a registration fee, the college said in a release announcing this year’s festival.

The Arkansas Scottish Festival began in 1979 as a small fair on the campus’ intramural field as a way to pay homage to the Scottish heritage of the college’s Presbyterian founders. It has grown into one of the premier festivals in Arkansas and one of the most prominent festivals in the United States for honoring Scottish heritage and traditions, the release said.

This is the second year the festival will be combined with the Lyon College Homecoming.

Presented by Lyon College and lead partners White River Health and Experience Independence, ScotsFest will feature a variety of activities in celebration of Lyon College’s sesquicentennial, including special musical performances, alumni and friends gatherings, Highland dancing, sheepdog demonstrations, a dog show, children’s activities, a bonniest knees contest, and a feast and ceilidh.

“While every ScotsFest is a great festival, this year represents something special in the life of our community: an opportunity to come together, alumni and friends alike, from every corner of Arkansas and from across the country to celebrate 150 years of history and tradition at Lyon College,” said Dr. David Hutchison, Lyon’s vice president for advancement.

“The whole weekend is really a huge kickoff for 10 straight days of special events and activities that showcase our unique story as a pioneer college in the foothills of the Ozarks, our journey to a national liberal arts college today, and looking forward to what great things are in store not just for Lyon College, but for Arkansas.”

“There’s always an air of excitement on campus during ScotsFest, and we love seeing so many alumni and friends come home to Lyon,” said Cindy Barber, executive director of alumni engagement at Lyon College. “This year, you do not want to miss it. We look forward to celebrating our Scottish heritage, homecoming, the sesquicentennial, and Lyon’s exciting future together with you.”

The college noted in the release John 3:16 Ministries “…provides outstanding support in helping to set up and take down the festival.”


ScotsFest begins Friday, Oct. 14, with open classes, a president’s reception, alumni awards celebration and social, and the Kilted Mile race/walk at 12th and Main Street in downtown Batesville at 6 p.m. Registration for the race/walk is available at

“This year we will have several pipe bands from around the region and great opening ceremonies with all the favorites: Amazing Grace, Scotland the Brave and others,” said Jimmy Bell, director of the Scottish Heritage Program. “Come see or enter yourself in the heavy athletics. You’ll have an opportunity to throw stones and weights for distance or height and throw some telephone poles.”

Festival gates open at 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 15, with a nod to history and reenactments by MacLachlan’s Jacobite Highlanders and Colonel Munro’s 37th Regiment of Foot, followed by a Highland athletics competition, rocket demonstrations, pipe band exhibitions, Highland dancing, softball alumni game, Black Student Association reunion, homecoming tailgate, a British car show, Li’l Highlanders Fun Zone, Highland dancing, baseball alumni game, and a Lyon volleyball game.

There will be a band and clan march-past followed by opening ceremonies at 12 p.m. with a mass pipe band concert in the Couch Garden. Afternoon activities include a dog show, homecoming pep rally and homecoming football game. A feast and ceilidh begin at 6 p.m., followed by a young alumni social.

“There is nothing more exciting than the colorful parade of clans, unless it’s the soul-stirring soundtrack provided by the pipe bands as the clans march past,” said Kenton Adler, director of advancement for Scottish Heritage. “And when the massed bands play together, it really can’t be beat.”

Sunday’s lineup includes a Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan worship service at 10 a.m. in the entertainment tent with tea and scones provided, as well as sheepdog demonstrations, Highland dancing, and a bonniest knees contest. A Club 50 celebration for those who have been alumni for over 50 years is set for noon in the Maxfield Room of Edwards Common, with the class of 1972’s induction into Club 50. The festival closes at 2 p.m.

“Lyon College welcomes everyone to come to this momentous occasion. ScotsFest is always one of the most, if not the most, diverse and entertaining events in Independence County. There is something for everyone of all ages. Forty-two years of practice made perfect,” said Pam Palermo, director of institutional events.

In conjunction with the sesquicentennial, Founders’ Week celebrations will continue with daily activities the following week and will culminate Oct. 22 with the inauguration of Dr. Melissa Taverner, Lyon College president.

“Our 15oth birthday is going to be a bash. We have a week full of events that will end with our 19th Presidential Inauguration and Sesquicentennial Black-Tie Gala.”

Following is a list of the ScotsFest events planned for this year. The full schedule can be seen at

Friday, Oct. 14

8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Open Classes*
5:30 – 7:30 p.m. President’s Reception* (Highland House)

6 p.m. The Kilted Mile* (downtown Batesville)

6:30 p.m. Annual Lyon College Alumni Awards Celebration* (Edwards Commons)

9 p.m. Alumni & Friends Social* (The River Steakhouse & Waterfront Grill— formerly Josie’s)

Saturday, Oct. 15

8 a.m. VIP Breakfast* (VIP Tent, Couch Garden)

8 a.m. 42nd Arkansas Scottish Festival Opens to the Public
8 a.m. Reenactments by MacLachlan’s Jacobite Highlanders and Colonel Munro’s 37th Regiment of Foot

9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Lyon College Scot Shop open (Edwards Commons)

9 a.m. Highland Athletics Competition* begins (Couch Garden)

9 a.m. – 11. a.m. Rocket Demonstrations (Practice Soccer Field)

10 a.m. Pipe Band Exhibitions begin (Couch Garden)
10 a.m. Highland Dancing begins (South Lawn of Brown Chapel)
10 a.m. Softball Alumni Game (House Field)

10 a.m. Baseball Alumni Game (Fred Wann Field)

10 a.m. Black Student Association Reunion (Outdoor Classroom)

10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Faculty/Families Meet & Greet

11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Ozark Beer Co. Entertainment Tent Open* (Couch Garden)

11 a.m. Homecoming Tailgate (Brown Chapel South Lawn)
11 a.m. Alumni Hospitality Tent
11 a.m. British Car Show (Brown Chapel Crescent)
11 a.m. Li’l Highlanders Fun Zone opens (South Lawn of Lyon Building)

12 p.m. Clans and Bands March-Past, Opening Ceremonies, Mass Pipe Band (Couch Garden)

12 p.m. Highland Dancing (South Lawn of Brown Chapel)
1 p.m. Dog Show (Couch Garden)

1:30 p.m. Homecoming Pep Rally (Tailgate Alley)

2 p.m. Lyon College vs. Texas College Homecoming Football Game (Pioneer Stadium)

2 p.m. – 5 p.m. Alumni & Friends Pavilion (Pioneer Stadium)

6 p.m. Cocktail Hour, Feast, Ceilidh and Dancing* (Entertainment Tent)

9 p.m. Young Alumni Social* (Flanders Terrace, Lyon Building)


Sunday, Oct. 16

8 a.m. Festival Opens

8 a.m. Vendors and Clans
8 a.m. Reenactments by MacLachlan’s Jacobite Highlanders and Colonel Munro’s 37th Regiment of Foot

10 a.m. Highland Dancing (South Lawn of Brown Chapel, Lyon College)

10 a.m. Tea and Scones (Entertainment Tent)

10 a.m. Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan Worship Service (Entertainment Tent)

12 p.m. Club 50 Celebration* (Bevens Music Room, Brown Chapel)
12 p.m. Bonniest Knees Contest (Begley Fountain)

2 p.m. Festival Closes

*Additional Registration Required

Registration for ticketed events can be found at Lyon College Scots football gameday ticket information is available here:

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