The Caledonian Club

I spent the weekend up in Pleasanton, near San Francisco, at the 143rd Annual Gathering and Games of the Caledonian Club of San Francisco. For those of you who don’t know it, Caledonian is Scottish.

This is my first time at these games, but I’ve been going to the Games in Costa Mesa and Pomona for a few years now. I still don’t have a kilt, but I’ll get around to it one of these years.

Most of the folks attending have some Scottish heritage, either by blood or marriage. All are welcome of course. Indeed, while most of the attendees are caucasian, it isn’t the least unusual to see blacks or asians wearing their tartans with pride.

A word on tartans. Each clan has its own tartan, and in fact, most clans have more than one. My own clan, Buchanan, has 18 recognized tartans. I’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing most of them, but I still see some that I would never have guessed as Buchanan. It is traditional to wear your kilt in your clan’s tartan. If you don’t wear the kilt, then wear at least some item of the tartan or at a minimum, wear a t-shirt proclaiming your clan. Buchanan’s main tartan is below:

The rule of thumb is that any person wearing your tartan is your “cousin.” You can walk up to a total stranger and say “Hello, Cousin.” The rigidly enforced rule in my clan is that there is no shaking hands in our family. You have to hug. That’s great when meeting women for the first time, but no so much for the guys. Each clan also runs a small booth at the games, which gives you a place to drop off backpacks or to sit for a spell and to catch up with friends. Everyone Buchanan who came to our booth got a small dram of very nice Buchanan Single Malt Whisky.  Not a bad way to start the day.

The games are a very family friendly activity. You don’t have to keep an eye on the kids. How weird is it that the safest place to take your kids is a gathering of Scotsmen with swords, knives and booze?

Here’s just a taste of some of the photos I took:

Did you think you were going to get out of here without bagpipe music? No way! I love the pipes!


And a wee bit of highland fling, with pipes.


UPDATE: How could I forget to mention, yes there was plenty of Belhaven ale. Quite tasty. Just the thing on a hot day. And at our clan dinner, we had a dram of 100 year old Buchanan whisky. Not bad at all.

9 thoughts on “The Caledonian Club”

  1. Mesa, you win nothing. If, however, you show up at the clan Buchanan booth at the games next year, tell them I sent you and they’ll give you a wee sip of good whisky.

  2. Well sicne you have my e-mail address you know I come by interest of the Buchanan Clan dinner naturally…as well as the Belhaven!

  3. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’d never heard of Belhaven. Glad to discover it. All the Budwiser vendors had it and the Belhaven Wicked Thistle IPA on tap. I didn’t see a soul drink plain old Bud all weekend.

    Albany, next years Annual General Meeting is in Estes Park, Colorado. I can’t make it, but maybe you can. And be sure to look into joining the clan society.

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