Batesville Rotarians got a chance to look behind the tartan during a Lyon College Scottish Heritage Program presentation on Monday.
Director of Advancement Services and Research Kenton Adler delivered the talk to the Batesville Rotary Club, sharing details on Lyon College and its founding by Scottish Presbyterians.
Although he first worked as an instructional technologist and then later for the department of advancement, Adler said it was the Pipe Band that drew him to Lyon in 1998.
The Lyon College Pipe Band serves as an ambassador for both Lyon and Batesville, he said, spreading the school’s Scottish spirit wherever they travel. The band is comprised of Lyon students, faculty, and staff as well as volunteer musicians from Batesville.
The Pipe Band travels to competitions across the country and abroad and visits Presbyterian churches to perform “Kirkin’ O’ the Tartans” services. It offers scholarships to incoming students for both piping and drumming, and members are involved in teaching the Scottish arts to interested parties through the Outreach Program.
“We just held our piping summer school two weeks ago,” Adler said, “and a new thing we’re doing is teaching local kids to play pipes and drums. We’ve got about six of them right now who come every Thursday during the summer.”
“We’re really excited about that. It’s a lot of fun.”
The Scottish Heritage program began in 1980 when Dr. Ralph Graham established a Scottish athletics event known as “the Highland Games,” which blossomed over time into the Arkansas Scottish Festival and now draws people from across the U.S. and even around the globe.
According to Adler, the event draws as many as 10,000 to 11,000 visitors to Batesville, filling up hotels and generating revenue for local businesses.
“The festival is a big deal for us,” Adler said. “It allows us to bring people in who wouldn’t normally be here or who haven’t heard of Batesville before.”
As a result of Lyon’s commitment to cultivating its Scottish heritage, Adler said the Lyon College Pipe Band and the Arkansas Scottish Festival have great reputations.
Adler had previously served as the Pipe Major for the Ozark Highlanders and worked for the University of Arkansas.
“We kept coming to Batesville for the Arkansas Scottish Festival,” Adler said. “I fell in love with the place. I thought the town was beautiful. I loved the College, and the pipe band here was spectacular!”
He is now the longest serving piper in the history of Lyon’s Pipe Band. Director of the Scottish Heritage Program Jimmy Bell is the second longest serving piper.
“When people see Lyon College Pipers coming at competition they automatically deflate,” he said, “because Jimmy is such a high quality instructor and we have such high expectations for people who go out and represent the College and Batesville.”
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