Oktoberfest carries a certain status in T-Town. It is a known commodity and people are either in or out. People who are in cite music, food and cold adult beverages as the main draw.
Forget the Germans for a month and turn your attention to the Scots. The Oklahoma Scottish Festival is kind of, sort of the same... only different.
A lot of the same festivities take place Sept. 16-18 at River West Festival Park, but with a Scottish twist.
For starters, this means no chicken dance. Scottish music may not ring a bell, so to speak, but chances are the tunes will be familiar once you hear them.
Kilts are cool especially when someone else is wearing them. Bagpipes might not be your instrument of choice for the entire year, but for one weekend they rank pretty high on the must-hear list.
Really, the only thing that could raise the level of the Scottish Festival is if they brought in "Rowdy" Roddy Piper to wrestle the luchadores from Eloté in a cage match.
Why a sports column? Great question. The Highland Games are damn near must-see.
Local mixed martial artist and former Scottish Games participant Josh Bryant was called into action at the last minute to take part in the games one year.
"Gary Robertson said, 'You should try it.' Without any practice, without ever doing anything, I went out there and competed in the beginner's level and tied for first," Bryant said.
When not wearing a kilt and enjoying a cold drink imported from Scotland, Bryant is cutting his weight down to land within the 185-pound middleweight MMA limit.
On this particular day, Bryant tipped the scales at 200, which placed him in the big boy's category.
He tied a 310-pound behemoth for first. "There are some 320-pound men that are burly and tossing things around. It's an awesome sight to see," Bryant said.
"Most people call it a telephone pole throw," said Bryant, referring to the caber toss.
"The object is to lift it, support it and don't let it hit the ground, walk it out, flip it end-over-end and land at the 12 o'clock position from you. That would earn the highest score," Bryant said.
The caber, or telephone pole, is typically 19 feet 6 inches tall and weighs close to 175 pounds.
Forget Zee Germans.
Many traditional Scottish games have morphed into either Olympic events or strong man competition events.
The Hammer Throw and Weight-for-Distance events look an awful lot like the Discus Throw. The Weight-for-Height uses a bar eerily similar to a high jump bar.
"It's really fun," said Bryant. "It's different than you have ever seen before. I challenge everyone to just go out and Google 'Scottish Games' or 'Hammer Throw' or 'Caber Toss.' It brings up a bunch of related videos and you can see what you are going to see. Go out there and experience it for yourself."
They even toss a rock instead of a shot put ball.
Participation in the Scottish Games is open to everyone, unless you fall well under the weight limit for the lighter weight (190 pounds).
In that case, there's always whiskey tasting.
"Anybody can go sign up for it," said Bryant. "You taste a bunch of good whiskeys and get a little drunk at the same time. It's really good. It's all from Scotland."
Well then, sign me up. "I would say it is a great gathering of people," he said.
Visit okscotfest.com for more information.
Bryant said he feels like he should've jumped into Scottish Games competition with both feet, but hesitated. "I got the feeling that things might go this way and I should have jumped when I had the first feeling because I would have a place already," said Bryant.
He was recently fired from a local gym.
Bryant's notoriety from the local MMA scene and his higher-profile from the Ultimate Fighter reality series should have worked to the gym's advantage, and by all accounts it did.
"July 1 we started keeping track of people who joined the gym, we were getting commissions," he said. "One out of every four people that signed up to the gym, I brought in. That's a fact. The computer said that, not me."
He was fired for not bringing people in. This is a learning module for two reasons.
For starters, if you want to train with Bryant, follow him online by liking his Facebook page, and follow his next move. He said he'll be back.
Additionally, mixed martial arts is on the verge of a national break-out. The Ultimate Fighting Championship signed a long-term agreement with Fox Sports. Advertising has I'm sure you have seen the advertising during football and baseball games already.
Let this serve as a warning. You, a family member or a neighbor might decide to give this MMA training a whirl.
Just like buying a car or a new pair of jeans, try it out first. Check around and do your due diligence. You would be surprised how many fly-by-night training centers pop-up on the corner offering lessons. Not all are highly accredited.
Bryant's ACA fight team is still going strong. While they search for a new gym, they have been rolling at Team Nogueira's gym in south Tulsa.
"That's a really upstanding thing to do," said Bryant of Team Nog's welcoming attitude. "But you know I never burned any bridges nor has my team, ACA ... We've been very professional with every other team, every other gym. We've cross-trained. We've stayed relevant. I can't say the same for the (old) gym itself."
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