About our Organization
The Kalamazoo Scottish Festival Association is a registered 501c3 Non-Profit organization, dedicated to preserving Scottish history and culture in the Kalamazoo area. We work with a number of Michigan Scottish Organizations and the Council of Scottish Clans and Associations(COSCA).
For more information about our events or how to get involved with the Festival please reach out using the "Get Involved" button. We also have a Facebook group attached to our page for anyone who wants to keep in touch with other Scots in the Community.
Who We Are
We are a group of people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures who have come together to enjoy, learn about, and participate in the celebration of Scottish culture. Anyone who would like to participate in our festivities - Scot or not - is welcome!
Join the Cause & Donate
As a registered 501c3 Non-Profit corporation, we run entirely on Sponsorships and Donations. This allows us to keep our Annual Festival free to the public.
It is your donations that keep us going.
(All donations are tax deductible.)
We also pride ourselves in being a volunteer led organization. If you are interested in participating as a vendor, donor, or volunteer, please get in touch with us below!
In 1992, Jaryl K. Smith (now Jaryl Day) proposed sponsorship by The Caledonians of “Thistle
in the Park,” a Scottish festival since regarded as the first of the Kalamazoo Scottish Festivals.
“Thistle in the Park” was held on Saturday, August 28, 1993 in the glen area at River Oaks Park.
With the assistance of Frieda Washburn, the Kalamazoo Scottish Festival Association was
incorporated in 1993, and the name of the festival was changed to the Kalamazoo Scottish Festival
for 1994. At that time the site moved to the soccer field at River Oaks Park. The festival remained
there through 2001, moving to the Kalamazoo County Expo Center and Fairground in 2002, Flesher Field in 2012, and Kindleberger Park in 2022, where we celebrated our 30th Year in 2023.
The KSFA was not the first Scottish-American organization in the Kalamazoo Area, the Kalamazoo Pipe Band was formed in 1963 and has been a staple of the Festival throughout our history; further, the Kalamazoo Caledonians, an earlier Scottish Society were the originators of our Festival and Association. Together we work to share our cultural heritage with our neighbors in South-West Michigan.
Our Logo & Arms
As the KSFA has grown over the years we have used the five headed thistle surrounded by a strap and buckle as our logo. It has had many forms over the past thirty or so years but the generic principals have stayed the same. This latest illustration was decided upon by the board after several months of conversation and we are proud to use it entering into our 30th year.
We, just as many other Scottish-American cultural organizations active in the United States, have in addition to our logo an official coat of arms. In Scots heraldry arms do not belong to a family or clan, but are only used by individuals and organizations, with marks of cadency differencing them from the original stem arms. In the United States individuals and organizations are free to adopt arms so long as they follow traditional heraldic law. Our arms are registered in the U.S. but follow Scottish inspiration and tradition.
The waves on the arms represent the Kalamazoo River, the golden field the fields of our area, the five headed thistle represents our organization itself and its members. This is shown beneath a saltire, the flag and symbol of Scotland. Our crest is of the unicorn bearing a Scottish pennon on a lance. A former flag of war, now used to mark festival and games fields. This Achievement is supported by a Scottish Stag standing on a field of Heather, and a Whitetail Deer standing over a field of Trillium. Our motto is, "Air Adhart" which translates to "Forward".
These arms were devised and registered by the board in 2021.
Both the Logo and the Arms of the Kalamazoo Scottish Festival Association are the trademarked property of the K.S.F.A. and may not be copied, replicated, distributed, or otherwise used without the express permission of the Board of the K.S.F.A.
KSFA 'Thistle Achievement Award' for Volunteer Service
The Thistle Achievement Award was created in 1998 to honor those who have given extraordinarily of their time and talents to furthering Scottish culture and heritage in the Kalamazoo area.
The thistle was chosen as the symbol for the award because it has been an emblem of Scotland for centuries. This beautiful but prickly flower has quite a legend attached to it. In 1263, Alexander III of Scotland was battling Hakon, King of Norway, in Largs. One of Hakon’s men, barefooted and advancing stealthily in the dark to surprise the Scots, trod on a thistle. He let out such a cry that the Scots were alerted and the day was saved. The same incident has also been credited to the battle of Luncarty in 990, when the foes were the Danes.
Because of this early warning system, the thistle is revered as a hero forever in Scotland.
So, too, do we revere these heroes of the Kalamazoo Scottish Festival, whose dedication and
contributions withstand the test of time.
1998 Duncan McKenzie
1999 Charles LaSalle
2000 Philip MacNair Parker
2001 Robert Claflin
2002 Donald and Margery Bierens
2003 Edwin and Frances Smith
2004 Howard Burke
2005 Alan Forrester
2006 Steve and Bonnie MacLeod
2007 Thérèse Bullard
2008 Jerry Campbell
2009 Gloria Culp
2022 Gloria Culp - Posthumously for her years of Service