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It's been a year. When will a beloved celebration of Scottish culture return to Whatcom?

Bands at the Bellingham Highland Scottish Games in June 2002 at Hovander Homestead Park in Ferndale. They'll be back for the inaugural Bellingham Scottish Gathering on June 2, in the same location.
Bands at the Bellingham Highland Scottish Games in June 2002 at Hovander Homestead Park in Ferndale. They'll be back for the inaugural Bellingham Scottish Gathering on June 2, in the same location. Bellingham Herald file

It's been a year since the Bellingham Scottish Highland Games ended.

If you've missed its celebration of Scottish and Celtic culture, you can experience that once again when the new Bellingham Scottish Gathering launches Saturday, June 2, at Hovander Homestead Park in Ferndale.

It is being put on by the Scottish Dance Society, and the organizers hope this will be the first of an annual gathering.

One of the organizers has history with the festival.

"I grew up dancing at the Bellingham Highland Games when it was held at Civic Field years ago. Eventually, my mother became president of the organization in the 1970s and for a time I ran the Highland dance events during my college years," said Heather Richendrfer, who also is the executive director of the Scottish Dance Society.

"I am involved in many Scottish festivals and it just seemed right to step up and bring back a festival that has been so loved by residents and visitors," added Richendrfer, who has been teaching Highland dance for 43 years and is the owner of the Clan Heather Dancers school.

Last year, the group behind the now-defunct Bellingham Scottish Highland Games said it wouldn't be putting it on because of a lack of funding and participation. It would've marked the 57th annual event, which celebrated Scottish heritage, music, culture and feats of strength that included caber tossing, stone put and Scottish hammer-throwing.

Those sporting events aren't at the inaugural year of the Bellingham Scottish Gathering.

"The event will differ from the past because my involvement brings expert experience in operating Scottish dance events," Richendrfer said.

But what will be there will include a Highland dance competition, individual piping and drumming, bagpipe bands, food booths, merchandise vendors and Scottish animals.

The dancing competition features the traditional Highland dances, jigs, hornpipes and national dances of Scotland, according to Richendrfer.

"Bagpipe and drum competitions and Highland dance are at the heart of any Scottish gathering and that has been our focus this year," Richendrfer said.

Hours for the one-day event are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tickets cost $15 for adults; $12 for students, seniors and those on active duty in the military; and $40 for a group or family of four, with children younger than 5 getting in for free.

They're being sold online at https://squareup.com/store/scottish-dance-society.

Tickets also can be bought at the family friendly event, although organizers would like people to buy them ahead of time.

Details are on the Scottish Dance Society's Facebook page.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea
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