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September 2, 2009 > Just when you thought that the Pleasanton Games couldn't get any better

Just when you thought that the Pleasanton Games couldn't get any better

By Marty Friedman

What can the famed Scots Guards possibly have in common with the U.S. Marines? Everything this Labor Day. Including the only appearance of the Scots Guards in California. (Sorry, we couldn't arrange to Buckingham Palace here, too.)

Yet all this musical fanfare is merely the setting for the 35th U.S. Invitational Heavy Events, not to mention the World Celtic Hammer Championships.

Now, are you sitting down? There are full enactments of the major lives of Scotland's past, including Mary Queen of Scots, the Highland Warriors, the Roman Legions and, of course, the invading Vikings.

Bring the kids, bring the family, bring your imagination as nearly 100 clan tent are there (for kids in particular, the Children's Glen features nonstop games, art and prizes).

The whole family will love watching the Sheepdog trials, Birds of Prey, and Clydesdale wagon teams.

Are you into sports? Five-aside soccer, rugby and the ancient game of shinty will be offered right out of British history; Are you a car "nut"? Many English vehicles will be on display; Need a break? Delicious British and American food is plentiful at the vendors.

Enjoy a glass or two? "Taste of Whisky" made its very popular debut last year with nearly overflow crowds sampling the legendary Scottish dew. This year, the sampling will move to a larger air-conditioned building. Not only will whisky tasting be highlighted again, but a master class in whisky history and tasting will be offered for a additional charge.

All of the ever popular regular activities will be back with more than 25 competing pipe bands from the US and Canada.

Last year we had a very successful "Celidh & Barbecue" (the Scottish party) returns to the Red Lion Pub this year. Open microphone, dancing and guest appearances highlight the entertainment, imported beer and ale, and a superb BBQ at an additional charge.

To top it all off, the Celtic Rock Group 1916 is on stage. (1916 is a cross between folk rock and
Celtic, featuring music with a Celtic Evolutionary Sound.)

1916 will share the limelight with Tempsest, Wicked Tinkers and Molly's Revenge, along with traditional music from the always popular Browne Sisters, Isla St. Clair, Golden Bough, Peter Daldry and Neil O'Neil. Various stages will be swinging both days.

Over 100 vendors will highlight the main exhibition halls. You'll find Scottish clothes from shawls to kilts. Scottish treats from cookies to treats, military regalia, books, CD's and more.

How to get there: Take the Bernal exit off of I-680 in Pleasanton. There are three entrance gates.

Advance sales: Two days for adults just $20: normally $25; one day is just $12: normally $17; one day senior (65+), youth (8-16) and handicapped are $8.

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