Kilts and Kars – The 2023 Highland Games British Car Show

Over the past two decades, the Springfield Area Highland Games and Celtic Festival has had the pleasure of presenting to the Illinois public a proud picture of what it means to be of Celtic decent.  The Highland Games are a unique mix of sports, culture and community: the whirl of the kilt during a Highland Fling, the unforgettable sound of pipers and drummers and the display of power and skill of the Celtic athletes. 

The IFLBCC was invited again to attend this year’s Springfield Highland Games British Car Show in New Berlin, IL on May 20th.  Our group has attended this event twice in the past and it has always been a fun day out and this year was no exception. 

It was beautiful Saturday morning as our group headed out from Bloomington, IL around 9:00 am for a leisurely cruise down historic Route 66.  There are many attractions along this route like the Paul Bunyan statue in Atlanta, the World’s Largest Railsplitter Covered Wagon in Lincoln and the Williamsville “Old Station” with its vintage gas pumps and classic memorabilia from the 1930’s. Traffic was light and we easily made our scheduled arrival at the Sangamon County Fairgrounds in New Berlin.

Our group was anxiously greeted by dozens of Highland Games visitors.  The car show is adjacent to the Children’s Area which is always a treat as the kids and their parents thoroughly enjoy seeing and sitting in our “little” cars.  Not long after our arrival a group of bagpipers and drummers marched by setting the tone for the rest of the day.

As we began the typical “Car Show Protocol” of emptying the boots of lawn chairs, coolers and polishing gear many of our group were drawn to the all the Highland Games has to offer –  Clan Row, Highland Dance Competition, Whisky Tasting, Celtic Vendors, Food, Live Entertainment, Children’s Area, Bagpipes, Highland Cows, Clydesdales, Springfield Celts Rugby, Historical European Martial Arts, Jurassic Scotland and, of course, the British Car Show!

There was so much interest in our cars that we were initially obligated to stick close to the collection of MGBs, Minis, Triumphs and Aston Martin. What is this? Who made it? I had one of those.  My Mum had one when I was growing up in Scotland.  So many interesting stories and chances to educate the public about our cars and hobby.

Besides meeting new folks attending the show, we’re able to rekindle our connection with car-friends that come from throughout Central IL.  We were pleased to meet a brand-new member to the LBC community and his “Survivor” 1976 Triumph TR6.  He’d only owned it two weeks after seeing it alongside the road with a For Sale sign.  It was the same color as one he owned 45 years ago so naturally, he HAD to buy it.  He was re-learning about TR’s so our “Tech Team” jumped into action, helping him adjust his hood latch mechanism and offer up answers to his many questions.

What would a gathering of British car owners be without a wee’ bit ‘o natter and noggin?   The Highland Games had plenty of opportunity for both.  We gathered at the nearby pavilion where food and beverage vendors were happy to provide refreshments as a collection of entertainers serenaded us with traditional and popular Celtic songs.

The final leg of our outing was a visit to the iconic Route 66 Motorheads Bar, Grill and Museum just 20 minutes from the Highland Games.  For some in our group, this was their first chance to experience the nostalgic atmosphere, cars, motorcycles, and more. The building was originally built as a Stuckey’s gas station in 1971. It’s called Motorheads because the restaurant is closely tied to the world’s fastest dirt mile-track, located in Springfield, IL. 

With hugs and laughs we parted ways to our separate points of the compass knowing that we’d all be back together at the Champagne British Car Festival in Bloomington, IL in just two weeks!