By Timothy Kays
In around 793AD, Vikings from Scandinavia began to invade Pictland, a consortium of small kingdoms that would eventually become Scotland. By 795 they had plundered the Isles of Skye and Iona on the west side of Scotland, and ten years later they forced the monks of the Abbey of Iona to abdicate and move to Ireland. The Norse were not going away, and the natives, the Picts, Gaels and Scots, were in for a fight that would last for centuries.
Legend has it that one day, a band of Scot warriors were napping in the tall grass when a band of Norse marauders approached. The Scotsmen would have been taken totally by surprise, had it not been for a humble thistle plant. The legend says that as the Vikings approached, one of them stepped on a thistle, whose thorns caused the invader to scream in pain. Suddenly awakened, the Scots quickly attacked and wiped out the Norsemen. The thistle became a symbol of the thorny toughness of Scotland.
In 1687, King James III formed the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, a chivalrous order whose motto, “Nemo me impune lacessit,”
(No one attacks me with impunity), hearkened back to the days when Scots had to draw the sword to defend their freedoms and their lives. Scotland is home to several varieties of thistle. No one is entirely sure as to which variety it is but the Cirsium Vulgare, the thorny symbol of defiance, is generally considered the national flower of Scotland, and is held in national reverence. The Cirsium Vulgare goes by many names, one of which is the Bull Thistle.
The Village of Fayette is long famous for its strength of community, and its annual Bull Thistle Arts Festival is aptly named. The 2019 event was held under sunny skies on August 3, and had something for everyone.
While most communities are fortunate to have a flyover at their parade, the 2019 Fayette Parade had two. There were over 60 entries, with Steve and Tina Snider serving as grand marshals.
After the parade, the Normal Grove Community Park was buzzing with activity. Ball tournaments were underway while the younger kids jumped on rides or tried to make their way through an inflatable maze.
The event is called an ‘Arts Festival’ for a very good reason as artists were on hand to display and sell their handiwork. One of the more awe inspiring sights was the metalworking artist who repurposed metal objects into new pieces of artwork. “My daughter in law bought a thing that started as…well, it looked like a wrench,” said Ruth Marlatt. “That was the ‘L’ and then he made the other letters out of whatever, I don’t know, but it spelled, ‘Love.’ She’s going to hang that on a wall; it was just unique stuff. I think I heard a number of people talk about that. Another one was Kathy Ramsdell; she does woodworking pieces. She had very thin strips that were bookmarks, and she had a bull thistle on each one of these little wooden strips. They would fit into a paperback book or regular sized book.”
Butch and Judy Leady were crowned Bull Thistle King and Queen, Brink Costin and Shelby Philips reigned as Prince and Princess, and Leo and Barb Wixom were named Citizens of the Year. As per the usual, the chicken barbeque was a sellout, and those opting for milkshakes and bull thistle burgers had to get in line.
The entertainment scheduled for the event featured Bliss, with several other acts including Steve Snider, Rebecca Loveless, Angie Bird, Joe Killien, and special guest performer, Dennis Wasnich. “People walked around; they talked with each other. They sat and visited with old friends like they usually do, and it was a fun time overall,” Ms. Marlatt added. “I like to think that the major reason to take part is to relax, to enjoy the day, and visit with people that you don’t see every day.”
The day was topped off with the annual fireworks display, which has a new home. Historically taking place at Harrison Lake, this year’s display was fired off at the Fayette School.
“It’s different at the school,” said Ms. Marlatt. “I heard one of the nicest places to watch was behind the R&H restaurant. There were a couple people that were there, and they could see it because they were looking across the field to the school. I sat there on my front porch, and we could see it on the front porch. We could not see the ones that they do on the ground, but we saw all the other ones. As usual, a very good end to a very nice day.”
The schedule of events said, “Thistle be the best yet.” Mission accomplished.
Timothy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org