Busy day on tap Saturday
From kids in cleats to men in combat to Scots in kilts, May 17 is going to be a busy day in Farmington.
People looking for entertainment Saturday will have plenty good choices. The Minnesota Scottish Fair and Highland Games will set up shop at the Dakota County Fairgrounds for the fourth consecutive year. Farmington Club Soccer will offer a soccer jamboree at Farmington High School. And USA Tae Kwon Do will host its first Farmington Tae Kwon Do Open Championships, an event that could draw as many as 500 martial artists to Schmitz-Maki Arena.
That's a lot of activity, and city of Farmington employees have made the rounds to local businesses in recent weeks warning them to be ready for a rush of people in the downtown area.
Here's what you can expect to see if you venture out:
The Minnesota Scottish Fair and Highland Games is settling in at the fairgrounds after being forced out of its traditional home at Macalester College four years ago. This year's event will feature several new or expanded offerings.
This year's fair, which will run from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with an after-party in the fair's pub tent until 8 p.m., will feature eight bagpipe bands in competition and 16 athletes going head to head in traditional Scottish games such as the caber toss -- imagine heaving a miniature telephone pole and trying to get it to flip over -- and the hammer throw.
"We have a calligraphy tent where the calligrapher will be teaching people how to create a Celtic knot in a very short mini-lesson," said Liz Michaelson, marketing director for the fair. "There's virtually continuous music and dancing going on and lots of free activities for the kids."
Kids will have a chance to make their own battle shields and create a coat of arms on a flag. Alex Beaton, a musician who sings traditional Scottish ballads, will return to the fair after several years of not participating.
"I call him a Scottish troubador," Michaelson said. "He's a native-born Scot who has lived in the United States for a number of years."
Michaelson said this year's fair will feature booths from more Scottish clans and Celtic non-profit groups than any previous festival. It will also feature more traditional Scottish food such as fish and chips and haggis.
For years the fair was held in July, but last year it moved to May in an effort to find cooler weather.
For more information on the fair visit www.mnscottishfair.org.
Tae Kwon Do
Master Hoang Danh has been working for more than a year to plan the tae kwon do competition that will take place from 9 a.m. until about 4 p.m. Saturday at Schmitz-Maki Arena. Now that it's almost here, he's getting excited.
More than 300 competitors ages 6 to 50-something -- most from the Midwest -- have already registered for the event and Danh expects as many as 200 more could sign up before Saturday.
That's a big number, especially when you consider some national qualifying tournaments draw only 450 or so competitors.
Danh said he planned the competition as a way to draw people to Farmington.
"I feel the need of our town to build a stronger community," he said. "There's no events coming to Farmington."
Danh knows a thing or two about big competitions. He's been competing since he was 11 and in 1986, at age 17, he won a silver medal in the US Olympic Festival.
Danh expects Saturday's competition to run smoothly. There will be electronic scoring similar to what is used in the Olympics. Competitors will take part in three disciplines -- forms, breaking and sparring -- and there will be six rings for competition.
The day's events will also feature a demonstration by Luong Pham, the founder of USA Tae Kwon Do and a quarterfinalist in the 1988 Olympics.
"It's a nice atmosphere," Danh said. "The tournament is run professionally."
Making sure everything will run smoothly has been a challenge at times, but Danh said he's looking forward to the first of what he expects to become an annual event.
"I'm excited," he said. "I'm kind of getting nervous right now."
For more on the event go to www.usataekwondoschool.us.
Just across the street from Schmitz-Maki Arena at Tiger Stadium young athletes will have a chance to do a different kind of kicking as Farmington Club Soccer holds a soccer jamboree.
Club soccer has held jamborees in the past but current president Art Samion said none have been quite as ambitious as what's planned for Saturday. He expects there could be as many as 1,000 people at the field over the course of the day.
There should be plenty for them to do. Players from the Minnesota Thunder and Minnesota Lightning professional men's and women's soccer teams will be on hand, and staff from the National Sports Center in Blaine will hold skills clinics. Thor, the Thunder's mascot, will be on hand as well. There will be inflatable jumpers for younger kids, a magician and prizes for kids who complete the skills stations.
Samion said the idea behind the jamboree is to create a community for Farmington soccer players of all skill levels.
"There's a disconnect in most soccer programs between travel and recreational," Samion said. "What we wanted to do is have a place where we can have the travel and recreational players come together in one spot.
"We just kind of want to get people excited about soccer."
For more on the jamboree go to farmingtonclubsoccer.com.