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Scottish Festival and Games

Sunday, October 3, 2004; Page M08

Where: Crownsville, Md.

Why: A haunted house, a country stand and lots of trad plaid.

How Far: About 21 miles, or a half-hour from Hanover.


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Think men in skirts can't be tough? Wait till you get an eyeful of the strapping chaps at the Anne Arundel Scottish Festival and Highland Games, who hurl 150-pound wooden logs while clad in plaid kilts. The punishing activity, called the caber toss, is just one of many indigenous Scottish proceedings featured at the annual outdoor fest happening this Saturday in Crownsville. Where did the 16-pound hammer throw and tug-of-war come from? They're ancient test-of-strength rituals in which soldiers from battling clans competed; festival founder John Dodds dates their start to as far back as A.D. 1100.

For those not into such barbarous pursuits, the artistic side of Scottish culture will be represented, too, with pipe-band, drum-major, fiddle and dance competitions. In all, some 40 clans and Scottish associations are expected to show off their colored tartans (best seen in the opening parade at 11:30 a.m.).

Start your excursion by spiriting yourself into Bennett's Curse -- House of the Vampyres at Arundel Mills Mall. Maryland "Halloween guru" Allan Bennett designed the 20-room, medieval-themed haunted house, where folks can get scared silly by live actors and special effects (beware the splattering blood!). Arundel Golf Park in Glen Burnie has more than meets the name: There's also nine batting cages that'll get you 18 pitches for just over a buck. And since it's that time of year, Papa John's farm stand in Severn is a good place to stock up on goodies such as Jack B. Little and "small pie" pumpkins, which, at 50 cents and $1 each, respectively, are guaranteed not to carve a hole in your budget.

The Scottish Festival is Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds. For all the details, see www.annearun.com/aasfi.Tony Sclafani

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