Straight Talk

No affiliation

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Letter to the Editor

After the recent Taste of Scotland event and the negative comments stated by visitors to the Scottish Tartans Museum and Heritage Center Inc., I find it necessary to state that the Museum and this event and organization have absolutely no affiliation. I have been asked to explain the difference in our organizations. The Museum moved from Highlands to Franklin in 1994, and a group of people wanted to form a “Friends organization.” The founder of the Museum, Dr. Gordon Teall of Teallach, Baron of Huntly, the President of the Scottish Tartans Society in Scotland, and the Board of Directors were against this, fearing too much confusion with similar names and different goals – which proved correct. 

The group was formed anyway, under questionable circumstances, stating they were given a directive from the founder, which is probably incorrect. The Friends never operated as a Friends group by raising funds for the Museum. The Friends chose instead to compete against the Museum, which has greatly affected the association between the two groups. 

The Museum became incorporated, which forced the Friends group to change their name. They chose The Taste of Scotland Society, as this is the main event of their organization. This event and Burns Night are the primary events they hold. These events benefit the Museum in no way, except by having more people of Scottish heritage visit the Museum to actually find something Scottish on the Taste of Scotland day. 

Because these events are Scottish, the public naturally assumes the Museum is involved and they call or visit the Museum seeking information, which we do not have. The Museum Board of Directors voted in January of 2021 to sever all ties with this group, which I have done as President of the Board and Director of the gift shop and Museum. We are not an information source for this group or their events. The TDC [Tourism Development Committee] and TDA [Tourism Development Authority] may wish to reconsider funding this event. A statement from their Facebook page reflects the sentiment of others hesitant to speak the truth: “Two food trucks, popcorn and boiled peanuts, one clan and one pipe and drums … The only positive was the IRISH band playing at the SCOTTISH FESTIVAL. Never again will I waste my time and money to attend this lackluster event.”

The Museum opened May 2, 1988, as a reliable resource on tartans, Highland dress, Scottish culture, and as a focal point for people of Scottish heritage in the United States and Canada. The Museum is supported by our extensive gift shop, donations, and memberships. To expand our mission, we attend eight to 10 various Scottish Highland Games in the Southeast from Jacksonville, Fla. to mid-Tennessee, where we set up a research tent to look up surnames and give accurate historical information to the attendees. We clarify misinformation and dispel the many myths repeated by individuals and groups. We offer this tartan search service at Games and at the Museum free of charge, where other organizations charge a fee. We are in our 36th year of operation and have a reputation of quality Scottish wares, clothing made in Scotland, and an extensive and expanding Museum found nowhere else in the United States

Jim Akins, president, board of directors, Scottish Tartans Museum and Heritage Center Inc., Franklin